Article Title



K. Cook, M. Vang, & L. Ferguson-Stegall
Hamline University, St. Paul, MN

Statins are one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the United States. While statins have been shown to significantly reduce cholesterol levels, they have also been reported to have negative side effects on skeletal muscle. Most statin-induced myopathy manifests in the leg muscles, which can lead to difficulty walking and exercising. While statin-induced myopathy has been studied, the effect of statins on the ability to perform exercise has not been as well documented. PURPOSE: To determine the effects of statin therapy (S) compared to not taking statins (NS) on measures of functional mobility in trained Masters swimmers aged 55-75 yrs. METHODS: 16 participants (63.6 ± 6.1 y, 11 male, 5 female) visited the laboratory 2 times. During the first visit, fasting blood lipids, glucose, blood pressure, height, and weight were measured. Participants also underwent a resting ECG to ensure safe participation in the study. During the second visit, functional mobility, balance, and flexibility tests were performed. Functional mobility tests included the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB; included the 5 times sit-to-stand test, standing balance tests, and 8 ft walk), 8 ft up-and-go, stair ascent and descent, arm curls, and 4 m walk tests. Flexibility was measured by chair sit-and-reach and shoulder flexibility tests. Continuous variables were analyzed with one-tailed t-tests, and ordinal variables were analyzed with Mann-Whitney U. Effect sizes (ES; Cohen’s d, r) were also calculated. RESULTS: Total cholesterol (S: 163.6 ± 4.3 vs NS: 197.1 ± 12.4 mg/dL, p=0.019, ES=1.22) and LDL (S: 88.23 ± 8.0 vs NS: 120.7 ± 6.4 mg/dL, p=0.003, ES=1.60) were both significantly lower in statin users. No significant differences were found in most of the balance, flexibility and functional mobility measures. However, shoulder flexibility was significantly impaired in statin users (S: -14.9 ± 5.6 vs NS: -2.5 ± 3.5 cm, p=0.036, ES=0.96). CONCLUSION: Blood cholesterol levels were decreased in statin users as expected. However, shoulder flexibility was significantly lower in statin users compared to non-statin users. We conclude that while statins are effective in lowering cholesterol, they may have an adverse effect on upper body flexibility in Masters swimmers. More research is needed to confirm this finding using larger sample sizes.

NACSM Professional Sponsor: Lisa Ferguson-Stegall

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