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  1. #1
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    Cholesterol numbers

    Does anyone know how much your cholesterol numbers need to drop to be of any significance?

    Since last September, my overall number went from 207 to 190. Does that mean anything?

    My good went up and my bad and triglycerides went down (130->122 and 215->190).

    Or are these numbers like poll results, you know +/- 10%........just trying to get a gauge.

  2. #2
    2011 TCR Advanced SL Spinz's Avatar
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    In general you want the LDL,VLDL and triglyceride numbers lower. HDL should be higher. Lp
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    Spin Meister icyclist's Avatar
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    Do you have heart disease? If you do, you want your LDL's under 70.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    A couple months ago I had my doc run my cholesterol numbers. I don't have the numbers in front of me at the moment but my recollection is that the LDL and total cholesterol were borderline. The HDL was at 60 which I'm told is pretty good. FWIW, a few years back my numbers were similar and I had an angiogram due to a some sort of heart spasm. According to the cardiologist my heart was stronger than average, there was no narrowing of the arteries or blockage and my heart was getting all the blood it needs. I have heard cardiologists say that the whole cholesterol issue is overblown and doesn't mean what we have been led to believe. I'm at a loss to know what's real. I've made a really significant change in what I eat and have doubled my bike and general exercise routine without any effect on the numbers.

  5. #5
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    If understand your numbers, your LDL dropped from 130 to 122, which is better, but not good enough. It should be below 100 (or 70 if you have serious risk factors like diabetes).

    You need to see a doctor and you need to be on a statin. Statins not only reduce the LDL numbers but they are widely believed to reduce the possiblity of heart problems even more than can be explained by LDL reductions alone (probably by reducing inflammation.)

    Exercize can help reduce bad LDL cholesterol. But, in my personal experience it does more to raise good HDL cholesterol.

    There are a number of generic statins available these days. Plus there are a few 'water based' ones that are more powerful and carry less risk of myopathies. I would recommend you start on one today to reduce the amount of plaque that will build up over the coming years that could result in a stroke or heart attack somewhere down the line....
    --------------------------------------
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  6. #6
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=bruce19;14671006]I have heard cardiologists say that the whole cholesterol issue is overblown and doesn't mean what we have been led to believe. I'm at a loss to know what's real. QUOTE]

    There are many types of heart disease: heart attack, fibrillations, heart failure and so on. There are also different types of treatments for each of those conditions.

    One of the causes of heart attacks and strokes is arteries clogged with plaque -- and LDL cholesterol is one the ingredients that go into making the glop that creates that clog. As the plaques grow larger they can clog artieries and restrict the flow of blood. And, when the plaque that covers them and seals them breaks, the glop can trigger a blood clot which could result in a stroke or heart attack.

    Reducing bad LDL cholesterol (or increasing the good) will not eliminate your chances of having blocked arteries or a clot form. But will improve the odds more to your favor... depending on the numbers, reducing bad cholesterol can reduce your chances of a heart attack from (say) 20% over the next 10 years down to (say) 10 or 15%. So, while it is still a substantial risk, it is also a LOT less than it was. (Your physician can give you the real numbers that relate to you.)

    There are various ways to make that improvement: diet, exercise or (statin) medications. The best way that produces the least liklihood of heart attack or stroke is all three.... Each one will improve your chances a little and, combined, they improve your chances more than any single one by itself.

    All you can do is do the things that will swing the odds more in your favor...
    --------------------------------------
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  7. #7
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Statins are a liver toxin. My wife and I have several peers taking them All of them suffer significant side effects. In one case actual dementia until my wife persuaded him to cut back. While this man was suffering dementia, his daughter, a nurse, kept telling him "Dad you're doing great with those really low cholesterol numbers!"

    The war on cholesterol has been a dismal failure at reducing heart disease and is a terrible mistake that has become entrenched. It doesn't help that the American heart Association is funded by pharmaceutical companies.

    Avoiding junk carbs can do wonders to reduce triglycerides, and raise HDL. A real picture of heart health involves not a total cholesterol reading, but HDL, CRP, triglycerides and Hgb A1c. Diet and exercise works for me. If I was a heart attack survivor with multiple risk factors I might consider a statin, but otherwise no way in hell.

    Don in Austin

  8. #8
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    You need to see a doctor and you need to be on a statin.
    Nonsense. Statins are very powerful drugs with a long list of potentially dangerous side effects. You can improve your lipid profile numbers through exercise and changes to your diet--it just depends upon how willing you are to make the necessary changes.

    I've been able to maintain a good--but not great--lipid profile (see attached) solely through diet (I did not begin cycling until April of 2011). For most of this time, I have followed a diet similar to what is known as the Mediterranean diet (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_diet ). I emphasize fruit, vegetables, and whole grains in my diet, limit my protein intake to lean fish and poultry, and try to avoid saturated fat wherever possible. My goal is to get my total cholesterol down to 150, because I read in Dean Ornish's book, Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease: The Only System Scientifically Proven to Reverse Heart Disease Without Drugs or Surgery, that the famous Framingham Health Study found that no individual with a total cholesterol of 150 or lower ever suffered a heart attack.

    My banner year was 2008 in which I was able to get my total cholesterol down to 157 solely through diet. That year, my cafeteria at work was running a special program during which they offered a fish entree four days a week. During that year I often ate fish three times a week, and I was really diligent about following a largely plant-based diet the rest of the time.

    My numbers took a wrong turn in 2010. In that year, due to some family changes, I moved in with some other individuals who are not so dedicated to a healthy diet. I saw the results of this when I got my yearly physical and reviewed the results of my lipid profile. The feedback was obvious--as the frequency with which I strayed from a good diet went up, so did my "bad" numbers.

    So, over the last year-and-a-half, I have worked to get my numbers back down. I took up cycling, and I have lost 10 pounds as a result. I got what I consider to be an "unofficial" cholesterol test in May during a special event at work, and my total cholesterol was down to 161.

    You can do it if you are really serious. The way I look at it, why put yourself through the physical pain of all this hard cycling if you are just going to turn around and damage your cardiovascular system by eating a crappy (i.e., the typical American) diet?
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  9. #9
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don in Austin View Post
    Statins are a liver toxin.
    Don in Austin
    Contrary to what the FDA says (Who say they insure our drugs are "safe and effective", there is NO safe drug. Yes, statins carry a possible side affect of liver toxicity (as do many other drugs). But, the probability of developing such a condition from a statin is extremely low and the risk can be lowered to be effectively negligible when your physician orders, cheap and easy perioidic livery function tests.

    A more common side effect is myopathy (muscle cell damage). But again the risk is quite low and can be lowered even further by using one of the newer water based statins.

    Basically, as with EVERY drug, the question is: do the benefits outweigh the potential risks?

    In the case of a person with high cholesterol and risk factors for heart disease and who is one of the 99.9% with no known bad reaction to statins, the case is clear. Statins carry far more benefits than risk.
    --------------------------------------
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  10. #10
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Banded Krait;14671231]Nonsense. Statins are very powerful drugs with a long list of potentially dangerous side effects. You can improve your lipid profile numbers through exercise and changes to your diet--it just depends upon how willing you are to make the necessary changes.

    I've been able to maintain a good--but not great--lipid profile (see attached) solely through diet...... QUOTE]

    I agree, statins do have long list of potential side effects -- as does EVERY drug. In the overall scheme of things, for most people, taking an aspirin a day is more dangerous than taking a statin.

    And as with ALL drugs, if you can be healthy without taking them then do so. It is not only cheaper but healthier.

    And, congratualtions on being able to manage your cholesterol through diet and exercise alone. That is great work and you have obviously worked hard at it. Good on you!

    But, not everybody can do that. Aside from being limited in what life style they are able to live (its tough to exercise when you're a single mom working two jobs to pay the bills), some people simply have genes that makes them prone to having high cholesterol. So, for them while life style changes can and will help, they cannot alleviate the problem completely by themselves.

    So, when you are fortunate enough to be able to avoid drugs, do so! But, when ya need 'em, ya need 'em.
    --------------------------------------
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  11. #11
    Senior Member David Bierbaum's Avatar
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    Bicycling, Turkey Subs, veggies, and dark chocolate. My drug cocktail of choice! Good luck on getting your cholesterol back down as well. Since mine was only marginally high, it was easier for me to get down without medical assistance, but even medical assistance will appreciate bicycling and dark chocolate!

  12. #12
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Have you seen your doctor or if you have or suspect any heart related problems have you seen your cardiologist?
    My cholesterol has always been good (165) so my primary care doc has always been happy.
    A few years ago my wife suggested I have a cardiologist check me out because my dad had 3 heart attacks -- first one when he was 51. The cardiologist did lots of tests and determined that I had a hereditary condition from my dad. So he put me on a low dose of simvastatin to get my cholesterol even lower. He also has me taking 2000 mg of niacin each morning. Now my cholesterol is 104. He's happy with the LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. He's a cyclist and tells me to keep up the riding. On my last visit he told me I was his hero because I ride many many more than he does.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    The results of my 2009 annual physical showed my blood pressure to be elevated, overall cholesterol at 210, my HDL, LDL and tri's were all in the crapper. I was 63, my weight was 180 pounds (I'm 5'7') and I couldn't see my feet without bending over. My doctor put me on Lisinopril for the blood pressure, told me I had to exercise and was going to put me on statins if my six month followup didn't change. The next month, my wife got me a comfort bike for my birthday, which started this crazy addiction to cycling.

    At the six month followup the lipid numbers didn't change much but I convinced him to keep me off the statins and just leave me on the HBP medication. I stopped eating fast food and junk food, cut out soft drinks and cut my meal portions in half, but continued eating everything that I normally ate. In 2010, I was taken off the BP medication and my lipid numbers were much better. At last years physical, my overall cholesterol was 155, triglycerides 102, LDL 90 and HDL 45. My weight is currently between 145 and 150 and I can see my feet standing straight up.

    I have my annual physical next month and I'm sure the numbers will be much better than last years as I am riding more and riding harder. Moral of the story is that, in many cases, you really don't need medications to make significant changes in your health. A change in lifestyle works wonders. The only health issue I have to worry about is my leukemia, which is doing just great with oral medication.
    Last edited by John_V; 08-30-12 at 09:41 AM.
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  14. #14
    Spin Meister icyclist's Avatar
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    bruce19 wrote

    "I have heard cardiologists say that the whole cholesterol issue is overblown"

    Who are these cardiologists?


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  15. #15
    Senior Member David Bierbaum's Avatar
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    Here's my resource for cholesterol. It was actually part of the "prescription" from my doctor's office!

    http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/default.htm

  16. #16
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    Thanks everyone for the feedback. My company requires annual physicals so the numbers above are from my latest physical. My doctor mentioned statins at one time if the numbers got worse. I take fish oil for the tryglicerides. I tried a prescription niacin and have an adverse reaction (my skin started blistering, not hives, blisters!).

    I do not think I have heart disease but who knows. I take medicine for high blood pressure but that is probably hereditary.

    So far, this is step 1, the numbers came down since I started exercising. Steps 2 and 3 are eating better and....stopping smoking.

  17. #17
    Spin Meister icyclist's Avatar
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    Don in Austin wrote: "The war on cholesterol has been a dismal failure at reducing heart disease"

    What evidence do you have for that claim, Don?
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  18. #18
    Spin Meister icyclist's Avatar
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    RonH wrote:

    "He also has me taking 2000 mg of niacin each morning."

    Although niacin can change cholesterol numbers, a recent study showed that niacin doesn't reduce the chance of having a heart attack or stroke or other cardiac event.
    This post is a natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar enhance its individual character and beauty and are in no way to be considered flaws or defects.

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  19. #19
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icyclist View Post
    bruce19 wrote

    "I have heard cardiologists say that the whole cholesterol issue is overblown"

    Who are these cardiologists?


    Here's something you might find interesting. I have to check to see if he's a cardiologist. I will have to research some of my saved files to be more specific.

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/ar...l-numbers.aspx

    From the article:

    "Fortunately, in 2006 a review in the Annals of Internal Medicine[viii] found that there is insufficient evidence to support the target numbers outlined by the panel. The authors of the review were unable to find research providing evidence that achieving a specific LDL target level was important in and of itself, and found that the studies attempting to do so suffered from major flaws.

    Several of the scientists who helped develop the guidelines even admitted that the scientific evidence supporting the less-than-70 recommendation was not very strong.

    So how did these excessively low cholesterol guidelines come about?

    Eight of the nine doctors on the panel that developed the new cholesterol guidelines had been making money from the drug companies that manufacture statin cholesterol-lowering drugs.[ix]

    The same drugs that the new guidelines suddenly created a huge new market for in the United States.

    Coincidence? I think not.

    Now, despite the finding that there is absolutely NO evidence to show that lowering your LDL cholesterol to 100 or below is good for you, what do you think the American Heart Association STILL recommends?

    Lowering your LDL cholesterol levels to less than 100.[x]

    And to make matters worse, the standard recommendation to get to that level almost always includes one or more cholesterol-lowering drugs."

  20. #20
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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  21. #21
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by icyclist View Post
    Don in Austin wrote: "The war on cholesterol has been a dismal failure at reducing heart disease"

    What evidence do you have for that claim, Don?
    Here is a random sample. It only scratches the surface of what is out there if you look beyond the American heart Association and other front groups for big pharma companies.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/07/ma...ted=all&src=pm
    http://www.drbriffa.com/2012/08/24/a...rug-ezetimibe/
    http://www.cambridgemedscience.org/r...olMythCamb.pdf
    http://www.drbriffa.com/2012/08/15/a...ence-and-bias/
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mer..._b_676817.html
    http://www.naturalnews.com/022960_me...olesterol.html
    http://www.wellnesstips.ca/high%20cholesterol.htm
    http://www.thincs.org/WAPF2003.htm
    http://dietheartpublishing.com/Cholesterol/10/09
    http://www.spiked-online.com/Articles/0000000CAE78.htm
    http://www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=3318

    Don in Austin

  22. #22
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
    Here's something you might find interesting. I have to check to see if he's a cardiologist. I will have to research some of my saved files to be more specific.

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/ar...l-numbers.aspx
    Mercola has a well deserved reputation for promoting quackery.

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/20...ting-quackery/
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/...quackery-pays/

  23. #23
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    FWIW, Dr. Oz has agreed with some of what he asserts. Both of the sites you posted are blogs and both, as far as I can tell, call naturopathic medicine and chiropractic treatment frauds. I happen to have experience that convinces me that they both have value. If you want to make a point about something Mercola says I'd suggest posting studies or some sort of evidence that he is off base on a particular subject. We are all well advised to deal in facts.
    Last edited by bruce19; 08-30-12 at 07:27 PM.

  24. #24
    Legs; OK! Lungs; not! bobthib's Avatar
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    Here's my experience. 64, 5"11, 175ish +/-. Riding 150+ mi a week at a pretty good pace. Eating "right" according to the Drs. None the less, BP 140 - 150, Chol 200+ and creeping up. Got put on Lisinopril and Crestor. BP dropped, but started cramping on long rides. OK, I can handle that. Chol dropped to 160, BUT major muscle pain and tiredness. But the really scary thing was sudden and uncontrollable and unpredictable "twinges" in my shoulder muscle which made me feel like I was going to drop what was in my hand. I called the Dr and announce I was off Crestor. Tried Previstatin, same thing. Then the Dr suggested Choleast, a red yeast rice product he uses. No problems with the "dropsies" and only minor muscle pain. BUT my liver enzymes went though the roof! Got off of that stuff.

    Heard about a LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat) diet. Read up on it, and medically it made a lot of sense. I took the plunge. That was in May. Eggs for breakfast every day, no more bread, sweets, potatoes, rice (sugars and starches) Only 50 carbs a day. Into ketosis, fat metabolism.

    I'm now down to my HS weight, 162, and off all the meds. BP normal, Cholesterol still 200, but LDL below 100, HDL 80. Cholesterol particle size way up and count way down (Just above the high limit of 1000, but down from 1900!) Inflamation score way down. Saw the cardiologist 2 weeks ago. "No problems here." and I was cleared for my first Triathlon in September. Unfortunately I still can't run worth a darn.

    Other advantages: ketosis requires less O2, so there is less oxidative stress on the body. I don't get as winded. Less lactose build up. I don't have to eat or suck gu on long rides. The body can only store about 2,000 cal of glucose, but even a very thin person has over 40,000 cals of fat.

    If you want to know more, look up LCHF diets and/or get the book "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance."

    I guess Atkins was right.

    YMMV. Perhaps.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
    FWIW, Dr. Oz has agreed with some of what he asserts. Both of the sites you posted are blogs and both, as far as I can tell, call naturopathic medicine and chiropractic treatment frauds. I happen to have experience that convinces me that they both have value. If you want to make a point about something Mercola says I'd suggest posting studies or some sort of evidence that he is off base on a particular subject. We are all well advised to deal in facts.

    It is Mercola that has the burden of proof to show his out of the mainstream claims are evidence based.

    A few examples:

    He is a noted anti-vaccine proponent. Some of his antivax claims are addressed here: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/20...nations-again/ Note the studies that are cited.

    He opposes fluoridation without presenting evidence of harm.

    He has promoted claims that cancer is caused by a fungus and baking soda is the cure. http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/20...s-in-oncology/

    He promotes homeopathy despite the fact that systematic reviews of the scientific evidence does not show effectiveness and the supposed mechanism for it to work is not scientifically possible.

    He questions that HIV causes AIDS, stating "Dr. Al-Bayat provdes solid scientifi support for the position that HIV does not cause AIDS. Exposure to steriods and the chemicals in our environment, the drugs used to treat AIDS, stress and poor nutrition are the real causes." Mercola.com newsletter, July 11, 2001 Issue 236

    He makes unsubstantiated claims for supplements that he sells. Remember, if he is making a claim it is up to him to prove it.

    The FDA, which is generally soft on altmed, has sent Mercola several demands to cease making false claims, for example:

    http://www.casewatch.org/fdawarning/.../mercola.shtml
    http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/Enforcement.../ucm076069.htm
    http://www.casewatch.org/fdawarning/.../mercola.shtml

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