Cholesterol Drugs May Hamper Health Benefits from Exercise: Study

New research suggests that Zocor and other cholesterol drugs may inhibit some of the benefits of exercise.  

According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, use of simvastatin, which is better known by the brand name Zocor, may decrease the effects of exercise.

Researchers at the University of Missouri conducted a randomized 12 week study which involved 37 participants who had slightly elevated levels of cholesterol and had not exercised regularly within the past year. Study participants were overweight or obese adults with a minimum of two metabolic syndrome risk factors, in risk of cardiovascular disease.

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The group was divided into two categories. The first 19 people were placed on an exercise program. They walked or jogged on a treadmill five days every week at a moderately vigorous pace. The second group was also placed on the same exercise program but were also given a dose of 40 mg of Zocor everyday.

The exercise only group experienced a 10% increase in cardiorespiratory fitness, while the Zocor group’s results were stunted by the medication. This group saw only a 1 1/2% increase in fitness.

Additionally, the exercise only group also experience a 13% increase in skeletal muscle citrate synthase activity, the muscles cells ability to convert glucose and oxygen into energy. The Zocor group saw a decrease of 4 1/2% in this function.

Statins are a class of drugs prescribed to lower cholesterol, especially in low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Patients are often advised to use statins in combination with cardiovascular exercise and other lifestyle changes to help boost effects and lower cardiovascular disease risk.

Despite findings which revealed simvastatin may have a negative effect on exercise benefits, participants did see a reduction in overall cholesterol by as much as 29%. The group taking Zocor saw a reduction in LDL cholesterol, or the “bad” cholesterol, by nearly 4%. The exercise only group saw no significant change in total or LDL cholesterol.


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