Combining better physical fitness and statins significantly improves survival in people with unhealthy blood fat or cholesterol levels

November 27, 2012

Most strikingly, the study found that even people with dyslipidaemia (abnormal levels of harmful blood fats/cholesterol)* not taking statins, but who were highly fit, were roughly half as likely to die from any cause during the median 10-year follow up than those taking statins, but who were unfit.

"The fitness necessary to attain protection that is much the same or greater than that achieved by statin treatment in unfit individuals is moderate and feasible for many middle-aged and older adults through moderate intensity physical activity such as walking, gardening, and gym classes"**, explains Peter Kokkinos from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Washington DC, who led the research.

In the USA, approximately 71 million adults (33.5%) have elevated LDL-cholesterol according to Center for Disease Control. Dyslipidaemia is a key contributor to the incidence of coronary heart disease.

Kokkinos and colleagues assessed the records of over 10 000 veterans (9700 men and 343 women) with dyslipidaemia from Veterans Affairs hospitals in Washington DC and Palo Alto, California, USA.

All participants were given a standard exercise tolerance test between the years 1986 and 2011 to determine their exercise capacity. Using a measure of the peak metabolic rate (MET) achieved while exercising, the researchers classified fitness level as least, moderate, fit, or high. Patients were then divided into two groups (those treated with statins and not treated with statins) within each fitness category.

The researchers found that death rates were lowest for those who were taking statins and were physically fit. The higher the level of fitness the lower the risk of dying during the median follow-up period of 10 years. The fittest participants, regardless of whether they were taking statins, had a significantly (60-70%) lower risk of death.

The difference in death risk could not be explained by factors such as age, body mass, ethnicity, sex, history of cardiovascular disease, risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and medications.

In light of the findings Kokkinos recommends, "Individuals with dyslipidaemia should improve their fitness to at least a moderate level. Treatment with statins is important, but better fitness improves survival significantly and is a valuable additional treatment or an alternative when statins cannot be taken."**

Writing in a linked Comment, Pedro Hallal from the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil and I-Min Lee from Harvard Medical School in the USA say that the prescription of physical activity should be placed on a par with drug prescription, pointing out that, "The cost of becoming physically active is lower than that of buying drugs and moderate intensity physical activity has fewer side-effects."**
-end-
Notes to Editors:

*The most common dyslipidaemias are high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels (hyperlipidaemia), high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol ('bad' cholesterol) and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol ('good' cholesterol).

**Quotes direct from authors and cannot be found in text of Article/Comment.

Lancet

Related Physical Activity Articles from Brightsurf:

Physical activity in the morning could be most beneficial against cancer
The time of day when we exercise could affect the risk of cancer due to circadian disruption, according to a new study with about 3,000 Spanish people  

Physical activity and sleep in adults with arthritis
A new study published in Arthritis Care & Research has examined patterns of 24-hour physical activity and sleep among patients with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and knee osteoarthritis.

Regular physical activity seems to enhance cognition in children who need it most
Researchers at the Universities of Tsukuba and Kobe re-analyzed data from three experiments that tested whether physical activity interventions lead to improved cognitive skills in children.

The benefits of physical activity for older adults
New findings published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports reveal how physically active older adults benefit from reduced risks of early death, breast and prostate cancer, fractures, recurrent falls, functional limitations, cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and depression.

Physical activity may protect against new episodes of depression
Increased levels of physical activity can significantly reduce the odds of depression, even among people who are genetically predisposed to the condition.

Is physical activity always good for the heart?
Physical activity is thought to be our greatest ally in the fight against cardiovascular disease.

Physical activity in lessons improves students' attainment
Students who take part in physical exercises like star jumps or running on the spot during school lessons do better in tests than peers who stick to sedentary learning, according to a UCL-led study.

Physical activity may attenuate menopause-associated atherogenic changes
Leisure-time physical activity is associated with a healthier blood lipid profile in menopausal women, but it doesn't seem to entirely offset the unfavorable lipid profile changes associated with the menopausal transition.

Are US adults meeting physical activity guidelines?
The proportion of US adults adhering to the 'Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans' from the US Department of Health and Human Services didn't significantly improve between 2007 and 2016 but time spent sitting increased.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds do less vigorous physical activity
Children from disadvantaged backgrounds and certain ethnic minority backgrounds, including from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, have lower levels of vigorous physical activity, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge.

Read More: Physical Activity News and Physical Activity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.