A recent study published online in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, suggests that statins, which are the most commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications, may interfere with the fitness benefits of exercise.

The New York Times reports that the study tested a group of overweight, inactive men and women who all had multiple symptoms of metabolic problems, including wide waistlines, high blood pressure or excess abdominal fat, before and after a supervised 12-week exercise program. Half of the group was also given a 40-milligram dose of statins.

At the end of 12 weeks, the unmedicated group significantly improved their aerobic fitness by more than 10% on average. Conversely, the medicated group improved their aerobic fitness by barely 1% on average and some even had less aerobic capacity by the end of the study.

The researchers found that this discrepancy was a result of the reaction that taking statins has on enzyme levels. For people taking the drug, enzyme levels related to the health of mitochrondria, the energy-producing parts of a cell, fell by about 4.5%, but for the unmedicated group, enzyme levels increased by 13%. In essence, those taking statins reaped significantly less health benefits from exercise than those who were unmedicated.

Experts still advise that for certain people, such as those with high cholesterol or a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease, statins can reduce the risk of a heart attack and help save lives. If you have questions about this study or the medications you’re on, please speak with your doctor. To find a cardiologist in your area call 1-800-642-0101 or visit www.AdventistHealthCare.com/FindaDoc.

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