Is Statin Use in Elderly Men Associated With Lower Physical Activity?

Statin use in community-living older men was associated with modestly lower physical activity "even after accounting for medical history and other potentially confounding factors," according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. In addition, new statin use was linked to a more rapid decline in physical activity than nonuse.

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The long-term study followed 3,039 community-living men age 65 years and older, enrolled in the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study between March 2000 and April 2002. Follow-up was conducted through 2009. Of the men, 727 (24 percent) were prevalent statin users, 845 (28 percent) were new users, and 1,467 (48 percent) did not use statins. Overall results found that Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE) scores declined by a mean (95 percent CI) of 2.5 (2.0 to 3.0) points per year for nonusers and 2.8 (2.1 to 3.5) points per year for prevalent users, a nonstatistical difference (0.3 [−0.5 to 1.0] points). For new users, annual PASE score declined at a faster rate than nonusers (difference of 0.9 [95%CI, 0.1 to 1.7] points).

According to the study authors, these findings suggest that "statins are associated with less physical activity for as long as statins are used." In addition, they note that cross-sectional analyses showed statin users starting with lower physical activity levels compared with non-statin users. "Longitudinally, prevalent statin users declined at similar rates as nonusers while new statin users declined more rapidly," they said. The authors suggest that general muscle pain, often associated with statin use, may account in part for the lower activity in statin users, as could exercise-endured myopathy or muscular fatigues. They recommend further investigation into the clinical significance of these findings moving forward.

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