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Statins may hamper cardiac rehab efforts

Patients with coronary disease who were taking statins were unable to improve their leg muscle strength through cardiac rehabilitation exercises, a small study has found.

Researchers measured the peak isometric strength of leg extensor muscles before and after six months of cardiac rehabilitation in a group of 36 patients, aged 63 on average, of whom 24 were taking statins and 12 were not.

Leg muscle strength failed to improve at all in the statin group, whereas it went up 17% in the non-statin group. This was despite each group showing a similar peak oxygen consumption levels.

The authors concluded: ‘Statins may attenuate increases in strength of leg extensors associated with exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation in CAD patients.

‘Given the strong independent cardioprotective effects of statin therapy and evidence of increased muscle strength to improve functional capacity and well-being, the benefits and disadvantages of each should be considered in cardiac rehabilitation.’

The research comes after another recent study found elderly men tend not to take part in as much physical activity if they are taking a statin, leading the authors to question whether statins are appropriate for weak, frail or sedentary.

European Society of Cardiology Congress 2014; P406

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