A national study suggests that statins, which are drugs primarily prescribed to lower cholesterol, may make traumatic brain injury more survivable for older adults. According to the study, seniors who were taking a statin at the time of their brain injury appeared to have more favorable recovery outcomes following their injury.
Currently, there are no specific drugs that can be administered for serious brain injuries. While it’s not recommended that doctors start prescribing statins for standard treatment of traumatic brain injury, the observed results are still exciting because they offer the hope of more treatment options for people with brain injuries in the future. According to the study, statins help prevent secondary injuries that can occur from inflammatory and immune processes after the initial brain injury occurs. For older people with brain injuries, this may be particularly exciting news because we know that there is a connection between the age of a person who sustains a brain injury and the outcome he or she experiences—a person has a higher chance of experiencing a poor outcome for every 10 years of age. On the other hand, people who experience a brain injury earlier in life may have to cope with the possible long-term disabilities resulting from a brain injury, as well as the normal consequences of aging. This too can have a tremendous impact on a person’s quality of life, as it can be a struggle mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially.
Of course, more research is still needed in order to fully understand the role statins may play in the recovery process, but it is possible they could have a protective effect if started soon after brain injury. Additionally, the sky may be the limit in terms of the ways statins can be used if they end up being significantly beneficial for people with brain injuries. Some have even suggested that people who are exposed to mild repetitive brain injuries, like football players or soldiers in combat, could take statins preventatively in order to help limit the effects of possible brain trauma experienced while on the gridiron or in the line of duty.
Though the use of statins to help treat brain injuries requires further study, the idea of a prescribed medication that could help improve outcomes and recovery for people of all ages with TBI is encouraging. Who knows…statins may end up being good for your blood cholesterol and your brain.