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Statins and Exercise
Old 08-30-2013, 09:38 AM   #1
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Statins and Exercise

While much discussion has taken place on this forum of the pros and cons of statins, this new study suggests that statins may actually block the benefits of exercise:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/0...exercise/?_r=1
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Old 08-30-2013, 10:23 AM   #2
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Interesting, thanks! I know a lot of people who hate taking statins and hate exercising, but do both. I wonder which they will quit?

Personally I have been on Vytorin for years to keep my cholesterol down, and it contains Zocor, the statin they studied. I don't have any problems with statins or exercise (other than the ridiculous, exorbitant, infuriating, insane cost of Vytorin). I feel I gain at least as much from exercise now as I did before I started on statins. Actually more, I suppose, because despite being 7 years older now I am stronger than ever.

(Edited to add: Ah - - I see that they only looked at aerobic fitness, not strength. Well, OK, even though I have been improving my time and speed on the elliptical quite a bit, still I am the worlds' worst at cardio exercise. But then, the same was true for me in high school so nothing new there. Seriously, I don't see the difference there, either.)

I love my workouts at the gym, and feel I get a lot out of regular exercise. I don't see myself ever giving up regular exercise unless some serious health reason arises. Also I don't see myself giving up statins unless my cholesterol lowers all by itself (and my doctor says that is unlikely to happen because there is a hereditary component).

If the study is valid, then I suspect that there are a lot of individual differences in response to statins.
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Old 08-30-2013, 11:47 AM   #3
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W2R, as for me, I was on statins long before I started to exercise, so I'm not sure about their effect on exercise. Like you, I am not strong aerobically and don't really enjoy that type of exercise like I do the strength workouts. I had tolerated statins quite well until my PCP switched me from 20 mg simvastatin to a higher dose and then to Crestor, both of which made me feel lousy. I am back on the 20mg simvastatin, have improved my diet and my levels are excellent and I seem to still tolerate it well, but I wonder what would happen if I cut it out entirely.
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Old 08-30-2013, 02:04 PM   #4
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I let my Doc put me on statins even though I was only a little high on cholesterol. Took them for a month this Spring before getting mad at myself and just started eating a little bit better. Probably go in for another physical in October to see how things are.....giving up the chips isn't THAT hard. I also don't add extra cheese to anything now. Hoping that's enough to bring the numbers down since doing that wasn't hard. Giving up more than that will be a little irritating.
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Old 08-30-2013, 10:34 PM   #5
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Main research article NYT cited involved a small (37 total), preliminary study of a quite specific group of adult subjects. It was not a large study of the general population. I know of no medical society currently suggesting that proper exercise is of no benefit to most folks taking statins.
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Old 08-30-2013, 11:40 PM   #6
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The more serious risk when taking statins and exercising is the increased risk of statin-induced myopathy:

More than 20 million Americans are taking statins, and by most estimates, at least 10 percent of them will experience some degree of muscle achiness or fatigue. That proportion rises to at least 25 percent among people taking statins who regularly exercise, and may be 75 percent or higher among competitive athletes.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/0...h-to-exercise/

That observation is consistent with my experience: I took lipitor with no problems for 5 years or so and then decided to exercise and get in shape. I did get in shape, but began having muscle pain that was severe and did not go away for years after stopping the lipitor. I have been using niacin successfully to control the cholesterol for the past 6 years and I am in better shape now than then.

No way would I consider ever taking a statin again.
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Old 08-31-2013, 12:16 PM   #7
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I'm 59.5 and just had my 1st complete physical in over 12 years. All results were good except my cholesterol being high which I already knew for many years. It's in the genes. My total cholesterol was 251 with HDL slightly good range. I am in good health, exercise regularly, have mostly healthy diet low in fats and red meat. I just started on my 1st ever medication, something called Atorvastatin, a generic Lipitor. I've been taking a 20mg pill each day and have had 3 weeks of regular strength training, but haven't noticed any unusual pain or side effects. I go back in 3 months to see what the #'s look like after being on the statin. So I guess so far so good unless something gradually changes. Hope you find the happy medium....
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Old 08-31-2013, 12:47 PM   #8
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All results were good except my cholesterol being high which I already knew for many years. It's in the genes. My total cholesterol was 251 with HDL slightly good range.
I realize you're just reporting what your doc told you, but you might consider doing a bit of research to better understand your own health.

True, total cholesterol of 251 is considered high by some medical professionals, but normal by others. What makes the difference is other components in your blood. For example, your HDL is "slightly good range" but that leaves a lot to the imagination. And if you look at your triglycerides, you'll get even more valuable information.

But for one of the absolute best checks you can do, simply take the ratio of your HDL and triglycerides. That will really give you a good measure of your situation. A few minutes of searching will yield a lot of information about this. Just as a quick reference, if your triglycerides divided by your HDL gives a result less than 3, you may be in much better shape than you think you are.

Also, "mostly healthy diet low in fats" is kind of a non sequitur in my book. Dietary fat is pretty much irrelevant to what's in your bloodstream
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Old 08-31-2013, 12:56 PM   #9
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Also, "mostly healthy diet low in fats" is kind of a non sequitur in my book. Dietary fat is pretty much irrelevant to what's in your bloodstream
The Harvard School of Public Health has recently decided that the low-fat approach we have been using for 30 years is no longer a good idea. They do subscribe to the idea of good fats and bad fats. IIRC, they call the notion that food fat equals body fat as 'misguided'. OK...

You can read it here:

Harvard School of Public Health The Nutrition Source Fats and Cholesterol: Out with the Bad, In with the Good
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Old 08-31-2013, 03:13 PM   #10
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I have been taking Lipitor for 10+ years and exercise 60-90 minutes 5X/week. Seems like this schedule keeps me fit and is easy to get done with my loafer schedule. No, I'm not refering to a type of shoe.
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Old 08-31-2013, 06:45 PM   #11
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I have been taking Lipitor for 10+ years and exercise 60-90 minutes 5X/week. Seems like this schedule keeps me fit and is easy to get done with my loafer schedule.
Congrats on a solid exercise program- and testimony that statins do not prevent reasonable exercise regime in most folks.
I was put on simvastatin almost 7yrs ago. Despite being a non-athlete most of my life, my "greatest" athletic accomplishments were achieved while on a statin (inc. several marathons & over a dozen triathlons inc an ironman distance race). No telling if I might have posted better results if not on a statin, and always the possibility I might develop muscle trouble in future. But vast majority taking these drugs have no issues.
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Old 09-01-2013, 09:07 AM   #12
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Main research article NYT cited involved a small (37 total), preliminary study of a quite specific group of adult subjects. It was not a large study of the general population. I know of no medical society currently suggesting that proper exercise is of no benefit to most folks taking statins.
The study did not say proper exercise is of no benefit, but suggested its findings along with a small but increasing number of other studies, that statins may reduce the benefits associated with exercise.
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Old 09-01-2013, 11:29 AM   #13
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Congrats on a solid exercise program- and testimony that statins do not prevent reasonable exercise regime in most folks.
I was put on simvastatin almost 7yrs ago. Despite being a non-athlete most of my life, my "greatest" athletic accomplishments were achieved while on a statin (inc. several marathons & over a dozen triathlons inc an ironman distance race). No telling if I might have posted better results if not on a statin, and always the possibility I might develop muscle trouble in future. But vast majority taking these drugs have no issues.
Your athleticism is impressive. Congrats.

This study was small, but there are more than a few others with similar findings. It was a small study, but these type studies will be small- they do not sell drugs, hence it is hard to get them funded. The subjects are typical of those who are put on statins. The drug group took a moderately high simvastatin dose-40mg-and their relative beneficial response to a fairly strong aerobic program was very much attenuated, both by aerobic fitness measures, and by biopsy. A marker of mitochondrial activity, citrate synthase activity from an anterior thigh muscle, was raised in the no drug group, and actually fell in the drug group.

There likely are people who do not get this effect (unfortunately few studies give any idea of dispersion), but in those who do have this result, it is hard to see it as meaningless.

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Old 09-01-2013, 03:51 PM   #14
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There likely are people who do not get this effect (unfortunately few studies give any idea of dispersion), but in those who do have this result, it is hard to see it as meaningless.
By coincidence, a new study addresses just that point. Looks like it's about 24% of us who have the problem (in the US).

The Statin Damage Gene?
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Old 09-01-2013, 09:00 PM   #15
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By coincidence, a new study addresses just that point. Looks like it's about 24% of us who have the problem (in the US).

The Statin Damage Gene?
I just read it, and agree that it is very interesting. One thing I wonder about-how can some genetic variant be most pronounced in America, if the next most affected population is Europe? Genetically, America is just Europe, with a lot of other strains added. He didn't mention that this genotype is quite variable from European country to country, which it seems would be the only other logical explanation for the pattern Graveline mentions.

Ha
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Old 09-01-2013, 10:54 PM   #16
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Dr put me on statins because of family history and bad fractions, worst thing I ever experienced. Muscle weakness, joint pain and fogginess kept me from my normal exercise routine even with taking coQ10. Took almost three months off Lipitor before things got back to normal...not for me, BTW red yeast rice had the same, though less intense effect for me, which is a more natural statin.
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Old 09-02-2013, 08:16 AM   #17
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Statins can cause knee and joint pain, besides muscle pain. Many of my friends, my wife, and myself have had knee pain, back pain, and rotator cuff pain. Stop the pills and it goes away, start the pills and pain is back.

Just a FYI low fat diet and exercise did not lower my cholesterol. May work for some but not me.
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Old 09-02-2013, 08:34 AM   #18
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Just a FYI low fat diet and exercise did not lower my cholesterol. May work for some but not me.
But a high fat (very low carb) diet seems to work for most.
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:47 AM   #19
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But a high fat (very low carb) diet seems to work for most.
This worked for me and enabled me to go back to a low dose statin and I suspect if I improve the diet even more, may be able to eliminate the statin entirely.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:07 AM   #20
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I use red rice yeast, kept my numbers OK, some muscle pain, mostly in the evening. I also get jimmy leg and take magnesium, sometimes helps. I lost 30 lbs first time in 30 years I have been under 24 bmi. I won't be tested again until December, maybe I will stop the statins. I have read that statins help inflammation, which may help keep my prostate in check.
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