AGE
, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 283-291
Date: 21 Aug 2008

High-dose statin use does not impair aerobic capacity or skeletal muscle function in older adults

Abstract

3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (statins) are lipid-lowering agents widely employed for atherosclerosis prevention. HMG-CoA reductase blockade reduces skeletal muscle coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) levels and mitochondrial respiratory chain activities and may produce mild to severe skeletal muscle myopathy. This study investigated whether high-dose statin treatment would result in measurably decreased exercise capacity in older men and women. Maximal oxygen consumption, aerobic endurance, oxygen uptake kinetics, maximal strength, muscular power, and muscular endurance were measured before and after 12 weeks of statin treatment (simvastatin, 80 mg/day) in nine men and one woman, ages 55–76 years, with LDL-cholesterol levels >3.3 mmol/l (mean = 4.2 ± 0.2 mmol/l). Myalgia symptoms were assessed every 4 weeks. As expected, statin treatment resulted in significant decreases in LDL- and total-cholesterol levels (P < 0.01) with no significant changes in HDL-cholesterol or triglyceride levels. No significant changes were observed in aerobic capacity, endurance, oxygen kinetics or any measures of muscle function. No subject reported symptoms of myalgia, cramps, or weakness during the study. In the absence of myalgia or myopathic symptoms, high-dose simvastatin treatment did not impair exercise capacity in hyperlipidemic older individuals. We conclude that decreases in intramuscular CoQ10, in most patients on high dose statin treatment may not be clinically relevant, due to inter-individual variability in the degree of CoQ10 depletion, sensitivity of muscle to decreases in CoQ10, or both.