Statins lower cholesterol, but regular exercise can reduce the risk better than statins says a new study.

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Statins lower cholesterol, but regular exercise can reduce the risk better than statins says a new study.

Statins are recommended to reduce the risk of higher than desirable cholesterol levels, however, they have some marked side effects. One of which is how they affect skeletal muscle, creating pain and making exercise more difficult. Cholesterol, placing things in perspective is just one of the many risk factors for cardiac health, with inflammation being the largest. If that is true, why are statins such a huge part of health management as we age?

The NY Times cites a new study that shows that exercise will actually mitigate the effect of higher cholesterol, meaning, that the positive effects of regular exercise is much healthier for us than being on a drug to lower cholesterol. Since more studies are showing this to be true, why would doctors recommend a drug that inhibits our ability to exercise, as cholesterol is important for muscular function.

There are likely physiological reasons for cholesterol levels being high in some people, and since we are different genetically, perhaps this one size fits all approach should be reevaluated since cause and effect is not clear on our approach to cholesterol.

The good news is, if you are active with higher than desirable levels of cholesterol, perhaps you should not worry about the numbers and stay active instead.

Read the NY Times article here.

How Exercise Can Help You Live Longer

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS

Having unhealthy cholesterol numbers, elevated blood pressure or an expanding waistline substantially increases your chances of developing heart disease. But an encouraging new study finds that exercise may slash that risk, even if your other risk factors stay high.

Decades ago, scientists first began linking certain health conditions with heart disease. In the famous Framingham Heart Study, for instance, researchers monitored the health and lifestyles of more than 5,200 adults living in Framingham, Mass., starting in 1948. Using the resulting data, the scientists determined that high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, obesity, age, gender and smoking each had measurable impacts on whether someone would develop cardiovascular disease.

From their findings, the researchers developed the Framingham Risk Score, which calculates the likelihood of someone experiencing a heart attack within the next 10 years, based on his or her health numbers, especially blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The Framingham Risk Score calculator does not ask about physical activity. But many studies, including continuing portions of the Framingham study, have conclusively shown that people who exercise have a smaller risk of developing or dying from heart disease than sedentary people.

Few of those studies, however, have teased out the unique role of physical activity from those of related lifestyle and health factors. Fit people, after all, may have healthier diets and tend also to have healthy cholesterol profiles, low blood pressure, little inclination to smoke and svelte waistlines (fat around the middle is known to be particularly dangerous for heart health). Those factors could be driving the reduction in heart disease risk, with exercise insufficient by itself to reduce someone’s risk of heart problems.

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