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Thread: Cholesterol?

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    Senior Member atcfoody's Avatar
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    Cholesterol?

    So I picked the wrong parents. Specifically, I picked the wrong father. Why you might ask? Well for starters, I have familial hypercholesterolemia (genetically induced high cholesterol). You know it's bad when your doctor looks at you and says, "Did you drink a quart of cream before taking this blood test?" Needless to say, my cholesterol numbers are north of 300, with my triglycerides being north of 1000. Like I said, I picked the wrong parents.

    Anyway, how many of you, who have had numbers this high, have been able to bring them down with just "diet and exercise"? Also, how much of a drop in those numbers have you been able to get? Right now, I'm on Crestor (my "old man drugs" as I call them), because the doctor said that I wouldn't be able to get my numbers down without help, but I just wanted to see how you all have done.

    Thanks,
    D
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    I can't say I was that high, but I was in the solid 200s. Diet: Read the South Beach Diet Book. Whether or not you decide to use that diet, you will learn some interesting stuff int he book. Exercise: Get on your bike & ride!

    My cholesterol has come down a lot with a low(ish)-carb diet and exercise, from high 200s to low 100s.
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    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

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    Grizzled Curmudgeon keithm0's Avatar
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    I had my cholesterol checked for the first time a couple of months ago. The news was part not-so-bad, part terrible.

    The not-so-bad: My overall cholesterol was 233. Elevated, but not too freaky.

    The terrible: My triglycerides were over 600, more than 4 times the recommended maximum.

    Part of my problem is genetic. My father was a member of the "over 300" club.

    My doctor recommended I start taking Tricor. After 2 months of Tricor, and watching my diet, my overall cholesterol is down to 155 and my triglycerides are less than 300 (still twice what they should be, but less than half what they were).

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    My doctor has me on Crestor, too. It brought me from a cholesterol reading of 250 to 141 in about six months, and he suggested I drop down to one pill every other day -- and it's already the smallest dosage they make, at 5 mg. If I paid more attention to my diet, I could probably get off the pill altogether.
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    Senior Member jboyd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rainycamp View Post
    My doctor has me on Crestor, too. It brought me from a cholesterol reading of 250 to 141 in about six months, and he suggested I drop down to one pill every other day -- and it's already the smallest dosage they make, at 5 mg. If I paid more attention to my diet, I could probably get off the pill altogether.
    My story is identical to Rainycamp's. 5 years ago In the 250 range, 6 months on Simvastatin and lowered the range from 140-160. It has maintained for the last 5 years. I keep threatening to do it with diet and exercise, but my lazy nature usually wins out.

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    If your up in the 300's you really need to be assisted by meds until you get it within a reasonable range. Then with a lot of aerobic exercise you should be able to help maintain a lower overall level. A good diet should help with the triglycerides. I was able to lower my total cholesterol from 230 to 180 over a year with diet and exercise alone. Triglycerides also went from very high to within normal limits.

    Also what i notice is that a doc will not want to take you off your meds, unless you prove to them you are willing and able to do it on your own.

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    I my total cholesterol was in the high 200's on meds before I started biking 2 years ago. Now it is down to 145. In the process I lost about 70 lbs. A good diet played a big roll in it also.
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    Thread Killer evblazer's Avatar
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    My $#@*)( doctor has me in ever 3 months to take some blood and then has me come in to tell me my latest results.
    I think at the highest I was a tad over 200 total.. then the last time I was low in good cholesterol and high in triglicerides.. Not 600 or 1000 high just 175 high. More blood tests.

    Hey if I give blood alot you think that'll help lower my cholestorol/triglicerides?

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    fishologist cohophysh's Avatar
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    mine isn't bad...it was 200, tris were 105...however the good cholesterol level was only 32 and I need to get it above 40....
    We cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that created them. A.E.

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    I still wonder how much the drugs realy help. I was just a little over 200 and am working on getting it down into the 100's . In my case both my parents have elevated numbers as well, eventhough they eat healthy and are not overweight. 15 years ago if you were right around 200 the doctors were happy, now some want you be down to almost 100. Recently there has been the big debate about Vytorin and Zetia... the user's cholesterol numbers improved, but people were dropping dead at exacly the same rate as those not using the drugs. So your bloodwork numbers would improve, but your actual chance of dying from heart disease did not change... Go figure.

    I figure its a lot cheaper and a lot better for my overall health to just eat a little better and get a whole lot more physical activity. I now ride to work daily (5 miles each way) on my bike. In addition to that from Spring through Fall I'll add at least one club ride in for some more more intensive 1 to 1.25 hour rides to really give the ticker a good workout. I am also trying add in some more cross training, that is still a work in progress. Every bit of informationmation I've seen indicated that aerobic exercize is 100% effective in improving your circulatory system. By how much your body will improve is obviously varies greatly, but at least it WILL help.

    Keep on riding and hopefully we'll all live longer and healthier,
    André

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    If you truly have familial hypercholesterolemia then you are not likely going to get very far with diet and exercise. Lots of people will express different opinions about this and tell you that you can get it under control by eating sawdust and drinking a gallon of apple cider vinegar with each meal. However, this is a genetic disorder that causes your liver to not properly remove cholesterol from your body, diet cannot change that.

    The first time I was checked was at age 14, I was checked this early due to a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol, my numbers were in the range of 3 times the accepted norm at the time. At the time I was almost 6 feet tall, probably only 160 lbs, trained for competitive swimming 3 hours a day, drank skim milk, ate no cheese, ice cream, eggs, etc. and had virtually no body fat. My older brother was almost as active as me and had similar levels, my younger, overweight, couch potato brother had normal levels. Our diets were all the same, the only difference was activity level and ironically the inactive one had the lowest levels.

    I ignored it until my 40’s when my family doctor referred me to a specialist that first sent me to see a dietician. At that time I was (and still am) a fit 6’7” 235lb and I rode 10+ hours a week. The dietician confirmed that I was eating the right sort of diet with very few exceptions and I was getting more than enough exercise. Then I got to see the specialist who basically told me that I was doing all the right things but there was no way in hell that I was going to get my levels into the normal range without medication (everyone else in my family was already on something except for my younger brother) I was prescribed a low dose of Lipitor combined with a low dose of Ezetimibe and they signed me up to participate in some clinical trials that were being conducted at the same hospital. The clinical trials allowed me to have a number of tests done that would not normally be available to patients. From the clinical trials I learned that I was fit, had good blood pressure and more importantly I had very little plaque buildup in my arteries. So despite my elevated levels, I was not actually high risk, the excercise may be a factor there.

    After 5 years of the medication my levels in the mid to upper end of normal and some of the signs of high cholesterol like tendon xanthomas are all but gone. This is a good thing as prior to starting the medication my Achilles tendon had started to bother me as it had thickened considerably and had become less flexible. It is now back to normal.

    Interestingly I was recently given the opportunity to test how much difference my diet and exercise made as I had a bad crash in a BMX race in November and was unable to do anything that resembled exercise for 2 months, this was through the holiday period where I ate way too much as well. I had a blood test at the end of this period and my levels were bang on what they were in the prior year.

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    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrelam View Post
    I still wonder how much the drugs realy help. I was just a little over 200 and am working on getting it down into the 100's . In my case both my parents have elevated numbers as well, eventhough they eat healthy and are not overweight. 15 years ago if you were right around 200 the doctors were happy, now some want you be down to almost 100. Recently there has been the big debate about Vytorin and Zetia... the user's cholesterol numbers improved, but people were dropping dead at exacly the same rate as those not using the drugs. So your bloodwork numbers would improve, but your actual chance of dying from heart disease did not change... Go figure.

    I figure its a lot cheaper and a lot better for my overall health to just eat a little better and get a whole lot more physical activity. I now ride to work daily (5 miles each way) on my bike. In addition to that from Spring through Fall I'll add at least one club ride in for some more more intensive 1 to 1.25 hour rides to really give the ticker a good workout. I am also trying add in some more cross training, that is still a work in progress. Every bit of informationmation I've seen indicated that aerobic exercize is 100% effective in improving your circulatory system. By how much your body will improve is obviously varies greatly, but at least it WILL help.

    Keep on riding and hopefully we'll all live longer and healthier,
    André
    I sometimes wonder with some of these things, everyone in the family today has a high number, there is a good chance that great grandpa who was 40lbs overweight, smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish, and died at 94 when hit by a bus, probably had a high number as well, although medical science to check such things either didn't exist or was uncommon when he died in the 1970's.

    I think they will discover in the future that some people, normal is different for different people. For me, my cholesterol is a low normal, I gain 40lbs, eat like crap and get it checked the doctor says, low normal, I lose 60lbs, and eat like a rabbit, and the doctor says, low normal. I have a friend who is tall and skinny and eats a perfect diet, and the doctor puts them on meds for high cholesterol, go figure.

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    I'm gonna chime in....

    I was in the Army and was going through a flight physical when I first had my cholesterol checked. I was about 21 and the flight doctor looked at me, with a straight face, and said "you're still walking around?".. 496 and high triglycerides.. I was on all kinds of different meds over the years.. I'm 36 now and had a heart attack last April 30th.. That was finally my wake up call. When I went into the hospital my cholesterol was 330. I had two stents and went back for my 6 week follow up.. On 40mg of Vytorin my level was down to 130. I'd been on meds in the past on never seen it below 230. My diet is the only thing that I can come up with that was differant. I'm getting checked again on Friday, I've had one other test since then, and it was higher. I moved to Crestor and this is the first drug that I can see me being on for any length of time. All the others killed my energy and caused all kinds of gastro problems.

    I'm also taking 1000mg of Niaspan to raise my good cholesterol level which is much lower than they would like.

    In perspective, when I first had mine checked at 21, I was very active, but my diet was not that great. I also weighed about 185, and ran 20+ miles per week. Some people are genitically marked. I'm very active now. I swim, bike, and run several times a week, plus strength train. I've lost 50 pounds since the MI and my diet is very good now.. I still fight with my cholesterol, but I learned not to mess around with it.. My tri's are way low now too.. Have been for the last several years. The only main change at that time was eating more whole grains and less refined sugars, except the soda I was addicted too..

    Hope this helps somebody..
    Last edited by lunchbox1972; 02-04-09 at 06:08 PM.
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    Senior Member atcfoody's Avatar
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    Hey there;
    Thanks for all the input. I'm especially glad to hear that some of you have been able to get off the meds after your numbers go down. The whole idea of spending the next 60-65 years (I'm only 35) taking Crestor didn't seem like a lot of fun, but its a better alternative to having an MI or stroke in my 60's.
    Thanks again,
    D
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    vegetarian here, baby! My cholesterol is 132, forget the LDL and HDL specifically but they're very good. No kidding everyone else in my immediate family is on Crestor. I'm so glad I kicked the meat and dairy when I was young enough to break the cycle.

    (if interested, recipezaar has killer veg recipes)

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    Well. my doctor told me recently that my level was back up to 221 so I have to return to the meds. I recently returned to bike riding after a brief stay away from my bikes (a house fire). Anyway I have been riding since mid January despite the snow storms, etc. why. . . . because the momemt I got off the bike my numbers went up. I am also really paying attention to my diet, veggies and fruit, beans and water. I admit that I like my eggs but I have to let them go.

    Gas, .69 cents the price of a can of beans.

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    Mine was over 300. I remember having a Cholesterol check and the Doc saying "You know how high your Cholesterol is? It's 298!" My response "That low huh?" and I meant it. I tried Lipitor, but when I started cycling five years ago, I wasn't building muscle and improving. I switched to Zetia and that solved my lack of muscle build up, but my cholesterol went from 150 to 220. But the Doc is OK with that since the Triglycerides are well within spec which I attribute entirely to bicycling.
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    I guess I got lucky as far as cholesterol goes... my total cholesterol is 107. HDL is 54 and LDL is 34... not sure what happened to the other 19. When I last had my bloodwork done (June), my diet was somewhat lacking. In any case, did any of you have low cholesterol when you were younger (I'm only 23), only to have it jump up later in life?

    For me, my big concern is diabetes... my grandfather on both sides have/had diabetes, so I'm worried I will develop it myself. I got back into cycling partially as a financial and life style choice - wanted to quit hemoraging money on a cars, but also partially for health concerns. All of my numbers are good except for my weight, but with the family history of diabetes looming I'm afraid my luck will run out.
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    OMEGA 3 FISH OIL...all natural and you get to have an intact liver in 20 years. Really, it dropped mine from 250 to 200 pretty easily. The other things I do are try to eat whole foods and non-trans fat or hydrogenated oils. Cutting out hydrogenated oils will, buy itself, cut out about 75% of the processed foods you eat.

    Shalom

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    Ah, the only problem I DON'T have. At one point my cholesterol was in the double digits, finally got it up to the 140's.

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    About the blood chemistry confusion. Here's what I've been thinking about, thought I'd share.

    Just saw a new internist who specializes in blood lipids. He pushed hard on the statins due to high triglycerides (Total 143, HDL 25, LDL 63, trigl 274). He says no one really understands what triglyceridea are and how dangerous they can be. Also pushed a test for the LDL Particle number (LDL-P; 1300-1600 Borderline high risk) and Small LDL-P (Borderline 700nmol/L). The LDL-C is your traditional LDL measure, the LDL-P measures the number of particles and high on both is bad news, since you can be in the normal range on LDL but high in LDL-P. This may explain why blood results aren't perfectly predictive of heart disease.

    There's this (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/552838?src=mp):

    "We've been taught to look at cholesterol concentrations as a way to predict risk, but cholesterol concentrations are only proxies to what's really going on: lipoprotein abnormalities," Dr. P argued. "In our clinic, we use a particle-based approach in the prognosis and diagnosis of our patients with CVD risk [because] the risk is determined by the number of particles, not by the amount of cholesterol."

    Triglyceride levels are also very important, according to Dr. P. "When I look at a lipid panel of a new patient, the first lipid I always look at is the triglyceride count. We're very focused on LDL-C in this country, and that's part of the reason I think we're only preventing one third of the [cardiac] events in our patients. I look at triglyceride count first because I know as that goes up, the particle count goes up, too."

    There's also a recent paper I looked up (since he mentioned it) in Current Atherosclerosis Reports (01/09) suggesting:

    "Serum triglyceride levels exceeding 150 mg/dL are abnormal and confer increased risk for developing coronary artery disease in both men and women."

    and

    "Therapeutic intervention with fibric acid derivatives and omega-3 fish oils is associated with significant reductions in both fasting and postprandial serum triglyceride concentrations. A variety of prospective, placebo-controlled clinical trials have also shown that these agents significantly impact risk for multiple cardiovascular end points."

    Ref:
    Toth, P.P., Dayspring, T.D., & Pokrywka, G.S. (2009). Drug therapy for hypertryglyceridemia: Fibrates and omega-3 fatty acids. Current Atherosclerosis Reports, 11, 71-79.

    So my take is that it says there's a robust but moderate risk of high triglycerides and bad outcomes, even taking other blood cholesterol into account.

    Which made me wonder why he would push the statins and fibrates (TriCor, Lopid) and not the fish oil? And why the fancy expensive blood test that may-or-may-not-be-covered-by-insurance?

    (I am not a doctor nor associated with LIPOSCIENCE, or any pharmaceutical agency or its affiliates. I am just a confused patient resisting medication.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by andymac View Post
    If you truly have familial hypercholesterolemia then you are not likely going to get very far with diet and exercise. Lots of people will express different opinions about this and tell you that you can get it under control by eating sawdust and drinking a gallon of apple cider vinegar with each meal. However, this is a genetic disorder that causes your liver to not properly remove cholesterol from your body, diet cannot change that.
    I agree with this 100%...I have a bad family history and at 45 I had a heart attack of my very own - fortunately, I am pretty fit so there was no permanent damage but I have a stent with me the rest of my life and have some other blockage even though my cholesterol was never above the high end of the normal range. Now my cardiologist wants my total cholesterol to be under 100 which was impossible with just diet and exercise because my body produces too much. I take 1000mg of Advicor in addition to 1200mg of EPA/DHA (the good stuff in fish oil) daily. I feel great and this has kept my blood chemistry where my Dr. wants to see it. A quick note on fish oil since someone else mentioned it - not all fish oil is created equal. Check the label for EPA/DHA content as AHA recommends 1000mg of that daily.

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    As an update...

    I had mine checked last week and I'm at 133 overall, 78 for the good stuff and triglycerides at 64.. Dr. was pretty happy. I was pretty happy.

    I take the max dose, 40mg, of Crestor and 1000mg of Niaspan.. Include that in a lifestyle diet change that keeps me very far away from saturated fat, transfat, and cholesterol..
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    Anyone ever break open a fish oil tablet? Most of the time the fish oil is rancid! Just cut one in halve and taste the stuff. Ive stopped taking them.If I were to take fish oil Id take the liquid form so I would know whether its rancid or not. If you want to lose weight and watch your lipid numbers drop unbelievable low get Eat To Live by Dr.Joel Fuhrman. I have have followed it closely and have dropped weight and lipid numbers. Ive dropped 30 + lbs,dropped the bp meds halved the cholesterol meds and dropped my total c to below 100 and the bad stuff to below 40 in less than 3 months...Im waiting for the next round of blood tests to come in as I want to get off them completely.This was done during a period of extremely high stress businesswise.

    It is not a diet for everyone but its simple and it works.

    And before everyone picks on their ancestors realize that for 99.9 out of 100 the food one sticks in their mouth has much more to do with weight lipids sugar etc. than grandma and grandpa's genes.. Fat people normally have fat dogs and cats.. Thats not genes its just the family way of doing business.

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    I am definitely not a big fan of all these drugs. Plus, I have been reading lately on sites like naturalnews.com that most of these cholesterol lowering medications are hogwash.

    The gist of the argument is that there are no verifiable studies which have ever proven that artificially reducing the cholesterol numbers, via drugs, has ever prevented heart attacks or strokes. My take from all of it is that only exercise and diet will do the trick.

    IMHO, drugs are just a scam. I'll let you know for sure in 20 to 30 years, if I am still here.

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