Statin treatment for COVID-19 to optimise neurological recovery (STRONGER)
Statins are one of the most commonly prescribed medications globally to help control the body’s production of cholesterol, but they can also reduce the activity of certain cell proteins involved in the body’s response to infection and inflammation. COVID-19 infection puts patients at high risk of strokes from intense inflammation in the body, and from being critically ill. However, the effects of the virus may linger in the brain to disrupt pathways in more subtle ways that affects thinking, mood and sleep.
STRONGER aims to test whether treatment with a popular statin (atorvastatin), widely prescribed to prevent strokes and improve cardiovascular health, has anti-inflammatory effects that can improve memory and thinking after COVID-19 infection.
STRONGER is an international randomised clinical trial of atorvastatin versus usual care to assess memory and brain function in 410 adults who have persistent neurological symptoms such as ‘brain fog’, headaches, poor sleep, and disturbed thinking after infection with COVID-19. This is an Australian-Chile collaboration to allow recruitment of patients with a broad range of characteristics and recent and distant COVID-19 infection. The study uses a range of different ways to measure memory and thinking, and advanced brain imaging, to detect early signs of inflammation that may affect brain functions.
If COVID-19 infection results in neurological problems that could be improved using a well-studied, widely available and low-cost treatment, the long-term consequences of the disease on brain function could be avoided.