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Old 07-28-06, 09:02 AM   #1
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HDL cholestrol & riding distances ??

HDL is low and Dr suggested increasing exercise, i.e. riding distances to see if that will have a positive effect on HDL.

It's just diet and exercise that can raise this. He said most over 50 were in the 45 to 55 range when they had cholestrol under control. I favor non-statin approach, so the question is

How much to increase riding?


Currently only about 40 miles a week. Wondering if should set goal to 80 or 120, what. Anyone have any experience with riding distance and HDL level changes?

Thanks
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Old 07-28-06, 10:41 AM   #2
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I hope you have better luck than I have. My HDL has been low for years and my overall cholesteral varies all over the place. It did this even when I rode 175 to 200 miles a week + time in the gym. My doctor says drugs are my only hope for control. I'm not doing it. My mother has had the same numbers for years. She's 83 and would be considered perfectly healthy for an average 60 year old. I'll take my chances.

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Old 07-28-06, 11:26 AM   #3
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Interesting, maybe exercise is a fabled solution. I need to up mileage anyway, and will try this for a bit and see if the numbers change.
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Old 07-29-06, 06:01 AM   #4
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Interesting, maybe exercise is a fabled solution.

I dunno .... I was a runner until a back injury put me on the bike. Last time I had my cholesteral checked, my total was 159 and HDL was 70. I'm 54 y.o. and in '05 I ran 1842 miles so an average of just over 35 mpw.

I currently ride 14-15 miles, 2 or 3 times a week and a long ride on Saturday. My long ride is up to 47 miles.
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Old 07-29-06, 12:49 PM   #5
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All I know is that when my cholesterol levels and/or ratios have gotten out of line a few times over the past several years, my Doctor (a cyclist) asks me whether I want to take meds or get back to riding more regularly. Each time I've increased my riding frequency and mileage and everything got better, sometimes remarkably so.
But it could have been the beer and whiskey that made it better
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Old 07-29-06, 02:51 PM   #6
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I am a nurse practitioner with a cardiology practice and treat hundreds, maybe thousands of people's cholesterols. I also personally have low HDL cholesterol. It is the most difficult cholesterol fraction to change, and when it does change it is often a small positive increment (although this is believed to be bendficial). Change is usually about 10%if you see it at all, however if your level is low this 10% may only be 2-3 points. Exercise needs to be frequent- 5 days a week or more at least 30 min at a time. Unfortunately long rides on weekend only may not help. Niacin can benefit some people (and also lower LDL cholesterol as well). However this often involves large doses that should only be taken with medical supervision (think drug not vitamin). In my personal experience biking 50 - 70 miles a week and taking niacin and losing weight have resulted in a net change of zero for my HDL. You may do better. By the way if you have other risks for heart disease you might give statin drugs a second look- they have been repeatedly shown to reduce risks of heart attack by about 25%, they also may reduce strokes and possibly cataracts. I am sure there will be people who post stories of side effects and bad experiences but in reality these are rare and you may never experience a problem. Good luck whatever you do.
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Old 07-29-06, 06:48 PM   #7
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My HDL has always been high, so high that my total cholesterol is always borderline or slightly above what is considered "normal" and "healthy" even though my LDL is average. So I asked my Doc if I should exercise less and change my diet to try and lower my HDL and she says, "I don't think so. Just keep doing what you are doing."

I don't know if my HDL being high is due to a lifetime of regular exercise and healthy diet or just the luck of good genes. I'm not complaining.
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Old 07-29-06, 11:26 PM   #8
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I agreed to do an experiment proposed by my Doc: South Beach diet for 8 weeks to raise my HDL. Fortunately I didn't ride then. Every trip to the gym (no exageration, every) ended with hypo-glycemia. The diet doesn't vary at all for body type, exercise levels, size, or phase of the moon. Well, at the end of the experiment the HDL went from upper 50s to 70. I won't use the diet again as I regard it as a form of death but it did work in my case, and inexplicably HDL has remained OK. Perhaps this will be useful to you.
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Old 07-31-06, 04:48 AM   #9
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I too suffered from high cholesterol and elected to go the 'non-drug/change my diet/lots of exercise' route. I have a normal BMI, no history of heart disease in my family, exercised regularly (4000 plus km per year) and had a reasonable diet (olive oil not butter, fish, white meat, high fibre, lots of veggies etc.)

Then I had my heart attack. That was 9 months ago, now I am back riding. However I can forget attacking hills or jumping to the next group etc. That sends my HR over the limit.

So what did I learn? I should have dealt with my high cholesterol level as soon as it was identified and forgotten the "I'm so healthy I don't need medication" attitude. (80% of your cholesterol is produced by your liver) I should have gotten a stress test even though my GP said "you stress yourself everytime you are on your bike, if there were any problems they would have shown up by now" NOT.

Now I am on the usual post cardiac chemical soup. And yes, I am on a max dose of a statin, and contrary to the paranoid internet info, I am not suffereing muscle pain and my liver functions are all normal. And my cholesterol is way down into the target zone for a high risk person.

The days of blowing people off on the hills are long gone, now I watch the same guys I used to thrash, recede into the distance as I listen to the incessant beeping of my HRM.

Take my advice, deal with the symptoms, don't wait for the heart attack and subsequent heart damage to make you do something. Going from the first guy over the hill to the last guy is the pits. Yeah, well I was probably riding with too much type A personallity/testosterone for my age (59) anyways.
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Old 07-31-06, 05:41 AM   #10
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I've been the whole route. Heart attack 19 years ago, bypass surgery, the works. I have a sensitivity to some statins and have had terrible reactions to them. Other statins work ok for me. The one I have now has produced not a single problem in 4 years. Exercise is really important for heart patients. Those that engage in it always do better than those that do not. My advice would be to do both the exercise and the statins. It has been 6 years since my bypass and I still remember it unpleasantly. At least I'm alive. Do whatever the doctor advises. It matters.
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Old 07-31-06, 08:16 AM   #11
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The post by Imzimmer, nurse practitioner, describes my experience to a tee. I watch what I eat and excerise. I have found that you must do both to lower your total chloresterol. By doing both, I lowered my total chloresterol from 232 to 176 and the other numbers LDL and triglicerides fall in line too, except for HDL. Like the nurse pointed out my HDL barely changed form my normal 65 reading with or without diet or excerise. That number will not change much regardless of what you do. For myself, at age 58 and 160# biking as little as 500 miles during the summer and dieting for a lifetime of good health will give me excellent chlorestoral numbers. One winter I did little of any excerise while dieting and my total chloresterol went from 176 to 230. I now diet and exercise all year round.
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Old 07-31-06, 10:17 AM   #12
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Yeeewow. Great advice.

Current plan is to get more serious about diet and exercise for 3 months, redo blood work and ugh, consider adding statins. [some haver not worked for me, so I would really like a better alternative.]

Again, thank you all.
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Old 07-31-06, 12:00 PM   #13
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I'd recommend 20 miles per day four or five times per week with a 30 or 40 mile once a weeker in addition. The "daily 20" can be done in about an hour once you get tuned up (and if you don't have hills). Good luck! I'm more of a "better living through chemistry" person on my cholesterol...
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Old 08-01-06, 06:21 AM   #14
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I suffered a heart attack at age 44, and after that did a bunch of things, the end result of which was raising HDL (from 42 to 55), lowering LDL (from 130 to 70) and bringing blood pressure down.

Things that I changed:

Diet: - I eat little red meat now, and have cut out almost all saturated fats. If it is made of soy, I probably eat it. Burger king stock dropped a point as a result of my change in diet.

Weight loss: - Since the cardiac event I have lost 40 lbs, going from 210 to 170 - I am 5'10"

Exercise: - I have gone from none, to cycling to/from work, 30 miles per day (2 hrs) 5 days per week.

Drugs: - I am taking a statin drug, Lipitor, which seems to be the only thing which has an effect on my LDL.

Somebody mentioned Niacin, I was on a moderate dose of Niacin for a while, but it led to problems with gout, so I am off of it now. It was difficult to see any real change in anything as a result of going on or coming off of it, other than the gout going away when I stopped it.

It would be hard to tie any one thing to the end results, other than the Lipitor to LDL, since that was monitored pretty closely.
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Old 08-01-06, 10:15 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sauerwald
I suffered a heart attack at age 44, and after that did a bunch of things, the end result of which was raising HDL (from 42 to 55), lowering LDL (from 130 to 70) and bringing blood pressure down.

Things that I changed:

Diet: - I eat little red meat now, and have cut out almost all saturated fats. If it is made of soy, I probably eat it. Burger king stock dropped a point as a result of my change in diet.

Weight loss: - Since the cardiac event I have lost 40 lbs, going from 210 to 170 - I am 5'10"

Exercise: - I have gone from none, to cycling to/from work, 30 miles per day (2 hrs) 5 days per week.

Drugs: - I am taking a statin drug, Lipitor, which seems to be the only thing which has an effect on my LDL.

Somebody mentioned Niacin, I was on a moderate dose of Niacin for a while, but it led to problems with gout, so I am off of it now. It was difficult to see any real change in anything as a result of going on or coming off of it, other than the gout going away when I stopped it.

It would be hard to tie any one thing to the end results, other than the Lipitor to LDL, since that was monitored pretty closely.
Wow -- those are terrific results! You should be quite proud of making the changes, and sticking to them. Congratulations to you, my friend!
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Old 08-01-06, 03:24 PM   #16
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HiYoSilver,

I've had problems with high LDL, low HDL, and high triglycerides for a while now. Exercise alone works great for some people, but not for me. A year of 4-5 solid workouts every week changed my numbers not at all. This was without taking any drugs, improving my diet or losing weight. I was then on Niaspan (slow release niacin) for a while with no significant benefit, although again, studies show that it works well for some people. Then I switched to Antara (fenofibrate) which has worked great for lowering triglycerides, but doesn't do much for my cholesterol numbers. I'm now improving my diet and losing weight, so I have hopes that my next lab results will be better.

As an earlier poster noted, your results are a function of exercise, weight, diet and drugs. And genetics.
All of these except the last are under your control, but changing just one thing may not be enough.
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Old 08-01-06, 03:37 PM   #17
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Niaspan has moderate effects. Lipitor was a no go, it hurt too much. I am seeing good reductions in triglycerides which I attribute to exercise. Naturally the problem is the numbers are still too high, and the trend line shows HDL going down, which does not exactly help risk ratios. Go figure.

We have a big layoff coming this week, so can't make any realistic plans until that process has completed. I just know I need to get in a good 3 hour ride saturday, regardless of the job deal. I'm juggling which is better
a- a denver type of trail ride, or
b- trying a group ride that I know nothing about.
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Old 08-02-06, 12:23 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
Niaspan has moderate effects. Lipitor was a no go, it hurt too much. I am seeing good reductions in triglycerides which I attribute to exercise. Naturally the problem is the numbers are still too high, and the trend line shows HDL going down, which does not exactly help risk ratios. Go figure.

We have a big layoff coming this week, so can't make any realistic plans until that process has completed. I just know I need to get in a good 3 hour ride saturday, regardless of the job deal. I'm juggling which is better
a- a denver type of trail ride, or
b- trying a group ride that I know nothing about.

Sorry to hear about the upcoming layoffs! I hope you are not affected. I am working a grave shift through the end of the month (and working this weekend) or I might ask to join you. I get every other weekend off and ride the Denver trails all the time. I am riding the highline Canal trail to and from work (only 10 miles) but on my days off do a 23 mile loop. I am on Lipitor too, levothyroxin (thyroids). Way over weight, and working to get my HDL, triglycerides and LDL under control. I don't want to end up like my dad who was taking 13 different meds a day just to stay alive.
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Old 08-02-06, 06:47 AM   #19
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I sometimes think we get a bit too caught up in the numbers games. I sure recommend everyone knowing what their chol, triglycerides, LDL and HDL is on a periodic basis, but not worship or get too bent out of shape with the numbers. If one or more of these numbers is high, go to work on it, and leave the heavy artillery (drugs) until all else fails.
I'm retired now, but I used to tell all my patients to a) Eat a well rounded diet, but less of it! b)excercise!c)don't smoke 4)use seatbelts! To me these are the "big four" of staying healthy!
I suspect that 99% of people on this website are doing all the above! Unfortunately we can't go back and pick different parents and swim in a safer part of the gene pool........
It never ceased to amaze me that people would come in who were way overweight, couch potatoes, smoked heavily, never used seat belts, and would want a diet pill, something for their cholesterol, and insist on something obscure like a serum homocycteine level or CRP or serum rhubarb level or something???? I'd try encourage the "first things first" mentality, but so many would demand the magic diet, magic diet pill, or some mythical medical breakthrough that would bail them out of a lifelong unhealthy situation.
I often wished I took my own advice about 40 years earlier..........
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Old 08-02-06, 06:51 AM   #20
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Oh yes, Silver - I hope everything works out for you! That reminds me of a really dumb bit of advice I used to give people - "Reduce your stress level!" Yeah, sure!!! As if stress were able to be turned on and off light a light switch!
Good luck with it and keep riding!
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Old 08-02-06, 08:13 AM   #21
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Oh, I'm going to keep riding. If laid off, plan to start day as normal with a 5 to 5 mile ride, just to get the juices running, and then repeat at end of "work day". Decided last night to alternate on Saturdays. This Saturday I'll take a group ride and if it doesn't work, I'll switch back to solo rides. Odd Saturdays, will be family trips.

At least I'm doing a bit better than father. By this age he had a heart attack and bypass. I've also thought of trying increasing the naicin in Sept by another 500Mg[not earlier because of increased sun sensitivity with it]. I'm only on 1000Mg and my sister is on 2000Mg/day. I get blood work every 3 months, so I don't think it would be dangerous and have kept doctor informed of plans. If Oct blood work still hasn't improved, it's time to call in some drugs.

Again thanks all.
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Old 08-02-06, 08:39 AM   #22
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Had chest pain about 3 years ago while cycling. When I stopped, the pain diminished. When I started up again, it returned. So I ended up getting a stent. You can say that cycling actually saved my life!

I ended up losing 100 pounds, cutting out most saturated fats, increased my cycling to around 150 - 200 miles a week. My LDL is below 100 and my HDL increased about 10%. Resting heart rate went from over 80 to 45. For me diet and exercise had an extraordinary effect.
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Old 08-02-06, 09:26 AM   #23
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Could you be overthinking this? Just go ride and see what happens. FWIW, though, while my total cholesterol is very low (132 last year), the HDL/LDL balance has always been a little off. I tend to exercise in spurts, six months hard and two or three months sporadically, and every time I slack off, it shows in the blood fats. Just go ride.
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Old 08-03-06, 08:35 AM   #24
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Had chest pain about 3 years ago while cycling. When I stopped, the pain diminished. When I started up again, it returned. So I ended up getting a stent. You can say that cycling actually saved my life!

I ended up losing 100 pounds, cutting out most saturated fats, increased my cycling to around 150 - 200 miles a week. My LDL is below 100 and my HDL increased about 10%. Resting heart rate went from over 80 to 45. For me diet and exercise had an extraordinary effect.

Wow, good for you. My little bit of biking has lowered resting pulse from 90 to 72. Your 45 is inspiring, thanks for sharing. I've never been able to figure out diet stuff. I seem to eat too much if I don't have enough carbs. Don't think fats are out of line.

What are typical evening meals like?
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Old 08-03-06, 09:50 AM   #25
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I had borderline high cholesterol a few years back. The physician did not like my HDL and suggested that I exercise. I was already cycling quite a bit, enough in facts to be suspected of having an exercise addiction so adding more miles was nuts.

I switched physicians and I went on a strictor diet which is pretty much very little saturated fat, avoid trans fats and for meats chicken and fish. My LDL and HDL are now fine. The HDL is especially good now. I wonder if the benefit of exercise on HDL levels can be undermined by diet in certain individuals.
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