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Statins May Hamper Workout Results
Date:5/23/2013

a 12-week exercise regimen in which they walked or jogged on a treadmill for 45 minutes, five days a week. Another 18 people were placed on the same exercise regimen but also were prescribed a daily dose of simvastatin, sold commercially under the brand name Zocor.

The people assigned exercise alone ended up experiencing a 10 percent improvement in their cardiorespiratory fitness, while those taking simvastatin only enjoyed a 1.5 percent increase in fitness, the researchers found.

Additionally, people in the exercise-only group experienced a 13 percent increase in "skeletal muscle mitochondrial content," meaning that their muscle cells became more efficient in converting glucose and oxygen into energy. People taking simvastatin had a 4.5 percent decrease -- their muscles actually became less capable of using energy.

At the same time, the drug did help reduce cholesterol for those taking it. Total cholesterol decreased by 29 percent and "bad" LDL cholesterol decreased by 38 percent in the exercise-plus-statin group, while there were no significant changes in total cholesterol or LDL in the exercise-only group.

This study should prompt more research into whether other types of statins have the same effect and whether a lighter dosage would make a difference, said Dr. Robert Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and past president of the American Heart Association. He was not involved with the study.

"I'm not totally surprised by this. The idea of exercise and statins and the interactions between the two of them has been known for some time," Eckel said. "The new wrinkle here is the idea that fitness is modified in terms of the training effect."

Eckel said it is also very likely that other statins will have the same effect, given that they all work in much the same way.

At the same time, it is too soon for heart patients to toss away their medication in favor of exercise, he continued.
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