Do drugs discourage lifestyle efforts?

Prescribing statins and antihypertensives may lead to patients putting on weight and doing less physical exercise, according to a recent study.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, compared changes in BMI, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and smoking between 8837 Finnish men and women aged over 40 years starting statins and antihypertensives with 46 021 who didn’t. All participants were free of cardiovascular disease.

In people who started medication, BMI  increased more and physical activity declined compared with nonstarters. The likelihood of becoming obese (odds ratio: 1.82; 95% CI, 1.63–2.03) and physically inactive (odds ratio: 1.08; 95% CI, 1.01–1.17) was higher in people who started medications. On a more positive note, medication initiation was associated with greater decline in average alcohol consumption and higher odds of quitting smoking.

According to the authors their findings support the idea that some people who are prescribed medications view it as an alternative to making or continuing with positive lifestyle choices. This may negate the positive benefits associated with the prescriptions. Weight management and physical activity should be encouraged in individuals prescribed statins and antihypertensives and they should not be regarded as an alternative, they say.

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