J. Koltveit & L. F. Stegall
Hamline University, St. Paul, MN

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States. High cholesterol is a key risk factor in developing CVD. Statins are widely prescribed pharmaceuticals that effectively lower cholesterol levels, yet many studies have demonstrated significant muscle dysfunction as a side effect. Symptoms include myalgia, muscle cramps, weakness, and in worst cases, rhabdomyolysis. Few studies have investigated the impact of statins on highly physically active individuals such as Masters swimmers. PURPOSE: This study aimed to determine the effects of statin therapy on indicators of muscular strength in trained Masters Swimmers aged 55-75 y. METHODS: 16 participants (63.6+6.1 y, 11 male, 5 females), 7 on statins (S), and 9 not on statins (NS), were recruited through the Minnesota Masters Swimmers Organization. Questionnaires were used during the screening process to gain information about health history and muscle symptoms. Fasting blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose were measured at rest. Grip strength was measured with a hand grip dynomometer. Leg strength was assessed using a custom built Isometric Leg Strength System. A series of 8 arm and leg strength tests were performed and recorded using a manual muscle testing device. Data was analyzed using one-tailed t-tests. Effect sizes were also calculated. RESULTS: No significant difference was found between S and NS in any muscle strength measure. The muscle tests with the highest effect sizes included left elbow flexion (67.54±22.91 (S), 81.15±16.62 (NS), p=0.103, d=0.68, r=0.32) and left elbow extension (55.00±15.13 (S), 61.88±7.18 (NS), p=0.135, d=0.58, r=0.27), both with medium effect sizes. Data from the screening questionnaire demonstrated that of those who experienced muscle symptoms, statin users experienced significantly more interference with physical activity compared with NS (p=0.017, d=4.06, r=0.9). CONCLUSION: We conclude that even though there was no significant difference in muscle strength between the groups, statin users may experience significantly more interference with physical activity due to muscle symptoms compared to non-statin users. Future research should apply a more direct muscle assessment to determine if muscle damage due to statin use is apparent in highly active, trained populations with or without myopathy.

NACSM Professional Sponsor: Lisa Ferguson Stegall

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