Older Men on Statins Less Likely to Exercise

June 17, 2014
Jackie Syrop

Older men who take statins reported lower levels of physical activity than nonusers, according to a new study.

A study reported online in JAMA Internal Medicine on June 9, 2014, reports that older men who took statins had lower levels of physical activity than nonusers of statins.

The observational study, by David Lee, PharmD, PhD, and colleagues at the Oregon State University/Oregon health and Science University College of Pharmacy in Portland, reported that statin users expended fewer metabolic equivalents, engaged in fewer minutes of moderate activity and of vigorous activity, and were more sedentary. The study examined 3,039 older men, approximately half of whom were taking statins at some point over 7 years.

“We’re trying to find ways to get older adults to exercise more, not less,” Lee said in a statement. “It’s a fairly serious concern if use of statins is doing something that makes people less likely to exercise.”

The reasons behind this finding may be related to muscle pain in up to 30% of people taking statins, exercise-induced myopathy, or muscular fatigue, the researchers said. Further investigation is needed to uncover the clinical significance of the report.

“This could decrease the benefit of the medication,” he said. “If someone is already weak, frail, or sedentary, they may want to consider this issue, and consult with their doctor to determine if statin use is still appropriate.”

The findings should not change the recommendations for statins in those for whom they are indicated, an accompanying editorial notes, but it might cool enthusiasm for giving statins to other groups of people in whom all-cause mortality has been neutral. The observational nature of the study means it cannot establish a causal relationship between statins and physical activity levels, but the findings are consistent with prior research.