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Monday, June 30, 2014

Less Exercise Associated with Male Statin Use

Adapted from Author David Stauth, published June 11, 2014 on 

Almost one-third of older Americans take statins, usually to reduce their cholesterol levels, but a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine raise concerns about a decline in much-needed physical activity among men. To be fair, the research did not identify why men who took statins exercised less, it just confirmed they did. Possible causes could include side effects of statins such as muscle pain and disruption of the mitochondrial function in cells, which could contribute to fatigue and muscle weakness.
In an analysis of 3.071 community-living men in the United States, age 65 or older, researchers found that men who took statins averaged about 40 minutes less of physical exercise per week, compared to those who weren’t taking the medication.
“For an older population that’s already pretty sedentary, that’s a significant amount less exercise,” said David Lee, an associate professor in the Oregon State University/Oregon Health & Science University College of Pharmacy, and lead author of the study.  That would equate to the loss of 150 minutes a week of slow-paced walking, Lee said.
“We’re trying to find ways to get older adults to exercise more, not less,” Lee said.  “It’s a fairly serious concern if use of statins is doing something that makes people less likely to exercise.”
Muscle pain is found in 5-30 percent of people who take statins, Lee said, and some people also report feeling less energetic, weak or tired.
Of some significance, the study also found that new statin users had the largest drop in physical activity.  An increase in sedentary behavior, which is associated with all-cause mortality and also death from cardiovascular disease, was also observed in statin users.
This research followed men for almost seven years after initial baseline studies were done, and compared changes in physical activity among users and non-users of statins.  In parts of the experiments, men wore accelerometers for a week to track by the minute their level of activity.
“Given these results, we should be aware of a possible decrease in physical activity among people taking a statin,” Lee said.  “If someone is already weak, frail, or sedentary, they may want to consider this issue, and consult with their doctor to determine of statin use is still appropriate.”  Lee said.  “This could decrease the benefit of the medication.”

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