Men Who Take Statins May Exercise Less
Activity declined most among those just starting the drug, study finds
By Alan Mozes
MONDAY, June 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Older men taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins appear to be slightly less active than those who don't take them, a new study suggests.
Statin users logged about 40 fewer minutes of moderate activity each week compared to nonusers, according to the study. These findings confirm those of previous studies that found an association between a drop in activity and the use of statin medications such as Lipitor, Pravachol, Crestor, Zocor, Lescol and Vytorin, according to background information in the study.
However, the study's conclusions don't mean that people should abandon their cholesterol-lowering medications.
"Statins are extremely helpful for people who need them," stressed study lead author David Lee, an assistant professor in the department of pharmacy practice at Oregon State University/Oregon Health and Science University's College of Pharmacy in Portland. "They've really changed the landscape of cardiovascular health over the last 20 years."
"But the thing I want people to be aware of is that they can have some adverse effects on muscles that might lead to a decrease in exercise," Lee continued. "Because by being aware of that problem perhaps we can encourage patients to actually make an effort to push themselves to maintain their exercise habits. Because exercise is really very important, both for maintaining general health and for maintaining the ability to carry on independently as we age."
Lee and his colleagues report their findings in the June 9 online issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.
Statins are generally considered to be a safe way to reduce bad cholesterol levels and lower the risk for plaque build-up in blood vessels and subsequent heart disease, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Side effects may include muscle pain, fatigue and weakness, according to the study.
To explore how statins might affect physical activity among older men, the study authors analyzed data on more than 3,000 men aged 65 and older recruited between 2000 and 2002.
The average age was 73. All of the men were able to walk on their own and live independently.
About a quarter were already taking statins when the study launched, while roughly another quarter began using statins at some point during a seven-year follow-up period. About half never took statins.
All participants offered details on their physical activity routines at the start of the study, and then again twice more over the years. In addition, at the time of their third and final report, all spent a week wearing a movement-monitoring device called an accelerometer to track moderate and vigorous physical activity levels, as well as time spent being sedentary.
The team found that based on survey responses, activity levels appeared to decline slightly among both statin users and nonusers.