Statin therapy does not exacerbate muscle injury, pain or fatigue in people engaging in moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The findings are reassuring for people who experience muscle pain or fatigue from statins but need to engage in physical activity to keep their cholesterol levels low and their hearts healthy.
Statins have long been the gold standard for lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol and preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD) events, but while generally well-tolerated, they can cause muscle pain and weakness in some. Physical activity is also a cornerstone of CVD prevention, especially when combined with statins; however, studies have shown vigorous exercise can increase muscle damage in some statin users, which can lead to decreased physical activity or cause people to stop taking their medication. Less is known about the impact of moderate exercise.
Researchers sought to compare the impact of moderate-intensity exercise on muscle injury in symptomatic and asymptomatic statin users, plus nonstatin using controls. Symptomatic vs. asymptomatic was determined by the presence, localization and onset of muscle cramps, pain and/or weakness using the statin myalgia clinical index score. Researchers also examined the association between leukocyte CoQ10 levels on muscle injury and muscle complaints, since statins may lower CoQ10 levels and reduced levels can predispose people to muscle injury.