PTD1015_ExerciseA high cholesterol level puts you at an increased risk for a heart attack or stroke. Perhaps your physician has recommended that you take a statin, a drug that helps block your body’s ability to make cholesterol. Statins lower cholesterol levels but can also reduce the amount of plaque in your arteries. They are known by many brand names, including Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor, and more than a quarter of Americans over 40 years old take them.

In 2013, a widely publicized study appearing in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that statin use decreased some of the positive effects of exercise. Among a group of patients following an exercise regimen, half took a statin and half did not. While those taking the statin drug were found to have a 40% drop in their low-density lipoprotein (i.e., “bad”) cholesterol, compared with a slight rise among the nonstatin group, those taking statins saw only a 1.5% increase in cardiovascular fitness, compared with a 10% increase in the nonstatin group.

Although the study contributes to our ongoing understanding of the effects of statins, exercise remains an important factor in maintaining general health and independence while aging. Whether or not you are considered at risk for a heart attack or stroke, following these steps can keep that risk to a minimum:

  • Eat a healthy diet—low in refined carbohydrates, salt, and saturated and trans fats; high in fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Maintain a healthy waistline—less than 40 inches for men, less than 35 inches for women.

If you have been told that you are at risk for heart attack or stroke, call us for an appointment. We can design an exercise routine for you that can help lower your cholesterol levels and keep you active and feeling healthy—whether or not you take statins.

October PTEDigest Includes:

Get Rid of That Headache
Back in the Swing After Shoulder Replacement
Sparing Your ACL with Knee Replacement
Keep the Tingle Out of Your Arm
Statins and Exercise: Maintain a Balance

Download PTD October 2015