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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Statins and recovery

in: Orienteering; General

Dec 24, 2008 2:29 PM # 
Like many older people, I have been prescribed statins to reduce my cholesterol level. However, I have long suspected that these may also have been compromising my recovery from training. This appears to have been confirmed by high levels of serum creatine kinase in my blood (levels one would expect to see if one had just completed a marathon!).

Is there anyone else on Attackpoint taking statins? and what has your experience been of recovery times from training?
Dec 24, 2008 6:44 PM # 
I've been on a statin for a number of years, and it has not seemed to affect my performance or recovery.

However, since I have started taking Flomax for my prostate, I have noticed a significant decrease in my exercise tolerance, since it is an alpha blocker. Since it does not seem to be helping my symptoms much, I am thinking of going off it, as the side effects seem to be more severe than the symptoms.
Dec 25, 2008 6:19 AM # 
Statins can definitely affect muscles; not sure about recovery times but if someone's getting muscle aches & weakness since they started a statin they should talk to their GP.
Dec 25, 2008 10:54 AM # 
I've been on a statin medication for maybe 9 months now. At nearly the same time I started on the statin, I also started taking blood pressure medication (lisinopril and hydrochloridethiazide). I can't say that I noticed any effect on my recovery from training that I would directly attribute to either of these drugs.

However, of course, I don't recover as quickly as I used to when I was younger, and my running speed is very substantially lower than even 5 years ago or so. Whether either or both of the medications had anything to do with the slower speed, or if it was just a natural downward progression of running speed as a result of age, I can't say for sure.
Dec 25, 2008 1:21 PM # 
Mainly because of papers like this, I have avoided taking statins so far. But if I were to begin taking statins, I definitely would supplement with Co-Q10. Have you heard any of these contentions?

...The most common side effect [of statins] is muscle pain and weakness, a condition called rhabdomyolysis, most likely due to the depletion of Co-Q10, a nutrient that supports muscle function....Without Co-Q10, the cell's mitochondria are inhibited from producing energy, leading to muscle pain and weakness. The heart is especially susceptible because it uses so much energy...

And I also used to take alpha-blockers (Uroxatral) to improve urinary difficulties and retention. But, like Evan, I discontinued that too when I began having balance and light-headedness problems. Not sure what that is doing to long-term health of kidneys and lower urinary tract though.

Advance apologies to eddie for distastful discussion...
Dec 25, 2008 1:27 PM # 
one of the side effects of statin use is a pronounced decrease in the bodies production of coenzyme Q10 which is utilized primarily in the mitochondria to provide the energy for cellular function. It is also a pretty powerful antioxidant. However you don't generally get too much CoQ10 in the diet (unless you eat a lot of organ meats), so if your natural CoQ10 levels are compromised by statin use, fatigue and muscle tiredness are a common side effect. I've also read that although you can take CoQ10 supplements, it is not readily absorbed in the digestive tract (fat soluble I think) and thus double blind studies have not shown any tangible benefit to taking CoQ10 supplements - anecdotal information often says otherwise. Hard to know for sure - some alternative practitioners apparently advise CoQ10 supplementation for patients on statin therapy.
(Note: the above is based upon my reading of various sources and is a summary of my current understanding of statin use - ymmv)
Dec 25, 2008 3:14 PM # 
And instead of statins, how about getting more sleep? An article in this week's Journal of the AMA found that

...Participants in a study who slept on average an hour longer per night than other participants had an associated lower incidence of coronary artery calcification, which is thought to be a predictor of future heart disease...
Dec 26, 2008 10:18 AM # 
Lots of sleep research lately. A sleep deficit was earlier implicated in hypertension, or high blood pressure in this 2005 study:

...Getting too little sleep may be a significant risk factor for high blood pressure. In a study of more than 4,800 men and women, people ages 32 to 59 who got five hours of sleep a night or less were about 60 percent more likely to develop hypertension than those who slept six to eight hours. The trend was the same even after controlling for depression, alcohol consumption, smoking, pulse rate, obesity, diabetes and other variables...

As observed in another thread, doctors are too quick to pull out that little pad of Rx's. It is up to us to be proactive, read the research, and ask questions. Are we popping pills unnecessarily, when lifestyle changes would be more effective? And have fewer side effects?
Dec 26, 2008 5:55 PM # 
After angioplasty which included one stent and one balloon, I was put on statin Lipitor about 5 years ago. LDL went way down - in hindsight, GP probably should have lowered dosage, but he stated, "Even lower is better." 5K pace really felt good again for 1-2 years. After a while, I noticed aches in lower right arm when holding a few books or bag of groceries. When pain moved above elbow, I told my GP and he took me off statins. It never affected arm strength. Pain gradually went away, I stayed off statins at least 2 years, but LDL levels climbed significantly. Very good heart diet and 'some' exercise did not control it.

Last summer, cardiologist had me do treadmill stress test. I 'passed', but he convinced me try a different statin. I noticed more frequent muscle cramps at night, now put myself on every-other-day dose. Fewer cramps, haven't had LDL tested recently. Also on generic for Altace.

Running pace has slowed - but can't distinguish age, heart, or lack of running as cause. On treadmill, very hard to break 140 bpm; hard to sustain 135+ - not sure if that is 'normal' or not for age 58 - cardiologist was not concerned. But long slow pace on 3-hour Turkey O' felt surprisingly good. (Should have gone for sweep:) )

Who knows?
Dec 27, 2008 12:44 AM # 
Ok, I'm convinced. No more aging for me. It's such a fad anyway -- seems like everyone is doing it. Count me out from now on.
Dec 27, 2008 6:06 PM # 
Don't worry Tom. These symptoms didn't start bothering us until we were in our 40's. :)

Happy New Year (unless that thought also reminds you of aging).

"I'm going to live forever. So far, so good."
Dec 28, 2008 1:45 AM # 
I'm with you, Tom. We stopped some time ago.
Dec 28, 2008 10:42 AM # 
Well if you guys are serious about wanting to slow down the aging process, based on the mounting evidence, wouldn't you want to ensure you get at least 7 hours of sleep, or 49 hours/week?

After checking your individual training logs, I found that none of you guys are logging your sleep.... :-)

In my own case, I've resolved to never log my shoes...if I haven't logged my sleep too. And thanks to a recent effort to get more sleep, I feel more alert and energetic during the day. Surprisingly, I found that sleep is like training: the more of it you do, the better you get at it.
Dec 28, 2008 7:36 PM # 
A lot of the adaptations that come from training supposedly occur while sleeping, so logically getting more sleep makes better use of your training efforts.

Like Clark, I find I feel much better if I've gotten enough sleep - which for me seems to be 8-8.5 hours a night
Dec 29, 2008 11:17 AM # 
As usual, this thread is veering a bit off course, but I'm sure those who care about statins have already checked in.

WRT sleep, I would have to defend the notion that it is very much a personal thing. Getting enough is paramount, but how much that is will not be dictated by any number of studies, but by your own body. In my 20's, my training regime was regularly 25-30 hours per week. Not surprisingly, I typically slept 10 hours per night and often took a midday nap as well. On my current training, I usually wake up (without an alarm clock) after 6-7 hours. That's considerably less than I would have expected, but my body seems to be fine with it. Every once in a while, I'll sleep for longer.

I'm very fortunate to have an employer who doesn't particularly care if I get to work at 5AM, or 9AM so I can let my body dictate my schedule as long as I get to bed by 10PM. For those not so lucky, I strongly suggest getting to bed early enough that you wake up naturally rather than from an alarm.
Jan 1, 2009 6:22 AM # 
Will try the sleep option, but as a lipitor user for 6 years I do notice more muscle soreness (calves, hammies, quads). However prior to using statins I had chronic knee and achilles issues - with statins these have not got worse and are generally under control through specific muscle strengthening.

I've used COQ10 (no difference in soreness noticed), glucosamine (minor improvement), and lately Skins (definitely less soreness and quicker recovery, especially if I run in them - unfortunately summers here are too warm for this, so I don't run in them for 3-4 months, but do wear them before and after running).

Cycling helps too.
Jan 10, 2009 2:56 PM # 
My wife (44, athletic, very good runner, regular age group winner in road races), had a stroke a few weeks before Thanksgiving this year. She was in the hospital 5 days. They discovered a PFO and suspected that would be the reason, but after numerous opinions, and a trip to the Cleveland Clinic they feel she has carotid artery disease with 30-60% blockage. Because of this she is on aspirin, Plavix and now Lipitor. She has not started taking it yet, but has concerns of the long term effects. She is back to normal, running again, but concerned about the effects being so young. Our diet is also already heart healthy...she can thank her parents!
Jan 10, 2009 3:21 PM # 
Joint-pain (knees, ankles, elbows) side-effects as the result of prescribed statins (for high cholesterol) got so bad I ceased the medication & have never taken since !! Was exactly the same for my younger (by 10yrs) brother who, being a kidney transplant patient, and a runner, discussed at length with his Consultant who was found to be supportive re: the statin cessation, unlike his GP !!
Jan 10, 2009 4:09 PM # 
The so-called "Heart Healthy" diet recommended by the American Heart Assn has a goal to get your diet down to 35% fat...which is still mighty high by most standards.

There are other options, such as the Pritikin Longevity Centers where the goal is getting fat down to 5% of your total calories. And they have the results to prove the validity of their extreme approach.

This discussion thread is closed.