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Frank in a Contest and More on Muscle Damage by Statins

February 22, 2008

I’m putting together a lecture series for Synergy Performance Health & Fitness on the general topic of Senior Fitness. During this process, it occurred to me that I need to strongly demonstrate that what I teach in fact works to make me healthier and more fit. Yes, I seem to get surprised looks when I reveal my age, and I carry more muscle and less fat that my peers, and I am able to push a lot of poundage in the gym – but I have never tried to get into contest-ready condition. So here I go – I’ve decided to take the risk and prep for a contest on July 19th of this year in Culver City CA. The thought of standing on a stage looking like a plucked chicken, flexing this 68 year-old body is highly unsettling, but should gain me some street credibility, and a totally new life experience.

I hired Nick Estrada as a trainer to teach me the finer points of posing and competing in general, along with wisdom on getting bigger and shredded by mid July. Nick is a frequent competitor at the state and national level, and trains clients at Synergy and other L.A. gyms.

You might remember that I pulled a quadricep muscle back in October, and then again in January. I thought everything was healed and I was good to go. But as Nick was doing my initial assessment he commented that my hip flexors seemed tighter than they should be. He had me do a set of walking lunges with no weight to further test my flexibility and on the second pass I pulled the right one enough that I was unable to do anything but limp. He did some fast muscle work to stop the spasms and iced it for 10 minutes. I think he went home feeling badly about beating up the old guy, but it wasn’t any way his doing. I visited my super-great chiropractor twice for alignment and therapy and I’m on the mend again. The big question is; why is my body now betraying me with so little provocation?

The reason I bring this up is that I suspect it ties in with the use of Lipitor since 2001, and its general side-effect of muscle damage. In our last Frank’s Column I stated that my thumbs had become increasingly tender and painful over the last three years, that I had stopped taking Lipitor and they were improving. Well, there has been further improvement since then. I called my Cardiologist and he agreed that I should give it a month and see if it continues to improve, but I am convinced that I have used my last statin drug. I will use other means to keep total cholesterol around 200 and let the lipids fall where they may.

Mercola.com ran an article called “How Statins Damage Your Muscles”, along with comments by Dr. Mercola that indicate other destructive side-effects beside the shutdown of the CoQ10 pathway. The article states: “Statins such as Lipitor, Zocor, Pavacol and Mevacor lower cholesterol by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase, a key enzyme in cholesterol synthesis. But they may also activate the gene atrogin-1 gene, which plays a key role in muscle atrophy. Three separate tests showed that even at low concentrations, statin drugs led to atrogin-1 induced muscle damage. As the concentration was increased, the damage increased as well.” Mercola adds to this: “Statins have been known to cause muscle weakness and pain, but no one knew exactly why. This latest study sheds some valuable information on the subject and adds to your arsenal when discussing whether or not you really need to be taking a statin drug with your doctor.” He points out that lowering fasting and post-meal insulin levels results in shifting production of LDL from small particles found in arterial plaque to larger particles that don’t enter the endothelial layer of the artery wall, and don’t block up the arteries. Proper diet is the only thing that controls LDL particle size, and statin drugs do not.

Good Living – Frank

Frank Wilhelmi
Frank Wilhelmi

Frank Wilhelmi – Retired/consultant electronic engineer researches and reports practical strategies for optimizing health and fitness into advanced age. “I have a passion for living life to the fullest, and helping others to do the same.” A rapidly growing body of knowledge now enables us to extend our health and fitness decades beyond popular expectations.

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