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Author Topic: Cholesterol Blues (Paging Pete Rock)  (Read 359 times)
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ATB
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« on: September 24, 2014, 06:10:24 PM »

Just a bit away from my 40th so it was time to get the old blood checked for future causes of death and lo and behold my cholesterol is offa tha charts.

Most of it is hereditary, but it's still crazy bad as far as I can tell and I've been prescribed two statins that I really don't want to take.

I have read horror stories about statins so I'm hesitant to begin taking them but am hoping it would just be short term to get it managed and diet/life change (I know my success rate is low, sigh) will take care of the rest.

Anyone else in my boat with the dreaded triglycerides LDL nightmare?
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YellowKing
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2014, 06:37:58 PM »

I first got checked when I turned 30 and it was borderline high. Higher than someone my age should have been (mine was mostly hereditary as well).

They put me on a very low dose (5mg) of Crestor. I actually wound up taking it for 8 years with no ill effects. However, I had to get bloodwork done every 6 months to make sure it wasn't causing any liver damage, so that's always a fun thing to have hanging over your head.

I will say though, that statins kick cholesterol's ass. Mine dropped 100 points. However, like you, I'm not really one that wants to take medicine if I don't have to.

I finally got off the statins completely last year due to a combination of diet and exercise. I could have probably got off them a lot sooner, but it was easier to eat pizza, french fries, and Crestor than to actually eat right and work out.

Regular exercise and eating better (not perfectly, just better) got me to a point where I could stop taking them. My cholesterol is still on the high end of normal, but it's at least manageable without the drugs.

I don't really know whether statins are "good" or "bad." All I can tell you is I survived 8 years with no harm done. I can also tell you I'd rather not take them than take them. I'd definitely aim to control it through diet and exercise if at all possible, because that's going to have broader beneficial health effects than just cholesterol.
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Jimmy the Fish
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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2014, 08:33:13 PM »

I'll echo all the info so far. When I turned 40 (I am 46 now), my cholesterol was way high, like 260 I think it was. That and the fact that I was starting to experience health issues I had never seen before scared the crap out of me to start doing something about it. My doctor put me on cholesterol meds at the time but he strongly suggested that I address the problem through diet and exercise long term. While the cholesterol meds are a legit way of lowering it, you don't want to be stuck taking it for years and years. You risk exposing yourself to side effects and you never know what kind of weird shit it does to your liver or kidneys. Taking meds as a lifestyle routine is never a good thing in the big picture.

First thing I did was quit soda cold turkey, and that includes diet soda. Also quit sugary juices. I substituted water, both regular and sparkling. Honestly, that was so hard to do. I was addicted to soda for so long it took some time to shed the cravings. I still have a soda occasionally as a treat, but I am no longer guzzling it like water. Also, I stopped eating out all the time. The quality of food, especially fast food, and portion sizes really do a ton of damage to your health. It's hard to cook for yourself especially if you have no cooking talent but there are ways to simplify things to make it easier. Plan and pre-pack meals for a week at a time. Crock pots/slow cookers are a saving grace. Throw a bunch of stuff in one, cook it all up, and you have meals for days. Really watch the portion sizes too. I drastically cut back on my carb intake as well. I loved eating pasta all the time but nowadays I rarely have it. Same with bread and rice. If I do eat that stuff, I make sure to only eat a very small portion. I increased my intake of meat and fish, particularly chicken, pork, and salmon. Beef is okay as long as you don't overdo it. Eat more vegetables as well. If you don't like veggies in general, you have to come up with creative ways of cooking them to make it palatable. If there is one recipe resource I recommend to people it's www.thefoodee.com. It's more of a paleo themed resource (you can Google 'paleo diet' for a ton of info). I don't eat strict paleo but definitely changing my eating towards that has been a great benefit.

In tandem with diet, you have to exercise. IMO, you cannot concentrate on one without the other and hope to see the health changes you want. I've been doing Crossfit for 6 years, but really find whatever activity you like that works for you. Whatever you do, make sure you really up the intensity. Going to the local 24 Hour Fitness, hopping on a treadmill and walking 30 minutes while watching TV or reading is not going to be much benefit over the long haul. You have to really push yourself effort-wise.

Yes, heredity is a factor in high cholesterol but you can't write it all off to that. Also keep in mind that there is some new thinking within medicine that slightly elevated overall cholesterol may not necessarily be the horrible thing we've been taught. I've seen articles that say cholesterol in the 200 to 220 range is acceptable as long as the good cholesterol (HDL) is high and the bad cholesterol (LDL) is low. 

I think I was on cholesterol meds for a couple of years before the lifestyle changes I worked on allowed me to get off them for good. The day my doctor told me I no longer had to take them was one of the best days of my life.
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Lee
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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2014, 11:17:03 PM »

I am with you guys. My cholesterol is always high, but since hitting 42 or so it's been non stop medical problems. I am at a point where I have no choice than to quit all the bad stuff. Not just fatty, greasy foods, but sugar and alcohol as well. I would kill to go out for a burger and beer, but my body has already decided those are no longer options for me. I would do anything to be in my 30's again and not have to worry about this stuff. Getting old sucks.
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EngineNo9
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« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2014, 02:36:22 AM »

Man, you guys are really making me look forward to the next few years when my 30's turn into my 40's.   frown thumbsdown
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« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2014, 03:47:33 AM »

I just turned 40 in August.  It's probably time to actually get serious about some of this health stuff.  I haven't had anything really serious, but I also haven't been in for regular checkups.  My diet has gone to hell and exercise has been non-existent since the Wonder Twins showed up, and I'm pretty sure my blood pressure and cholesterol are going to be a mess.  I've gained nearly 30 pounds in the last 18 months, and while I don't have any serious health issues (that are manifested, anyways), I can tell that I'm headed down a bad path.

Thanks for the reminder to go get checked, even know I know I'm not going to like the results.

Oh, and I miss Pete.  frown
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Ironrod
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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2014, 05:45:49 AM »

Quote from: EngineNo9 on September 25, 2014, 02:36:22 AM

Man, you guys are really making me look forward to the next few years when my 30's turn into my 40's.   frown thumbsdown

Or you can just ignore it. Mine was kind of high when I had it checked 6 or 8 years ago. They wanted me to come back and do a fasting test. Bzzt! I'll pass. I'm 57 and I've already outlived my usefulness anyway.
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Lee
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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2014, 12:24:09 PM »

Quote from: Ironrod on September 25, 2014, 05:45:49 AM

Quote from: EngineNo9 on September 25, 2014, 02:36:22 AM

Man, you guys are really making me look forward to the next few years when my 30's turn into my 40's.   frown thumbsdown

Or you can just ignore it. Mine was kind of high when I had it checked 6 or 8 years ago. They wanted me to come back and do a fasting test. Bzzt! I'll pass. I'm 57 and I've already outlived my usefulness anyway.

Not really an option to ignore it. My father didn't take care of himself, he had his first heart attack at 37, a few more over the years, and then multipe strokes. Except none of this stuff killed him, it just made his life worse. The final few years were spent in a wheelchair with dementia. I don't really want to live like that. It's better to watch this stuff now than to go down that road. I didn't give a crap about my health for the last 20 years and it's already starting to catch up with me.
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Jimmy the Fish
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« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2014, 06:17:14 PM »

Quote from: Lee on September 24, 2014, 11:17:03 PM

I am with you guys. My cholesterol is always high, but since hitting 42 or so it's been non stop medical problems. I am at a point where I have no choice than to quit all the bad stuff. Not just fatty, greasy foods, but sugar and alcohol as well. I would kill to go out for a burger and beer, but my body has already decided those are no longer options for me. I would do anything to be in my 30's again and not have to worry about this stuff. Getting old sucks.

Getting old does suck in concept but it doesn't have to be a total drag. Getting healthy doesn't automatically mean you have to deprive yourself of stuff you like. I still like the occasional burger and beer and I will treat myself to that every once in a while. The key is to stop eating and drinking that stuff so frequently. Believe me, I LOVE a good burger but I only have one maybe once every month and a half. Even then, sometimes I'll substitute to try to maintain some standards, like getting the burger protein style wrapped in lettuce instead of on a bun. Being health conscious doesn't mean you have to punish yourself by completely denying the stuff you enjoy. After a while it becomes second nature. I could go out and eat junk every day again if I wanted to, but I'm in a place mentally where I don't feel like I need to, but when I do get that occasional craving, I'll enjoy myself.

In my experience, the physical part isn't the hard thing, it's the mental part. I still struggle with it sometimes, but I'm also in a place where my mind doesn't feel right if I miss too many days off at the gym.

I encourage you and any other old timers here  slywink to just go for it. Come up with a plan, start off gradually but really stick with it. Know that there will be setbacks along the way but as long as you stay consistent and keep up the intensity at the gym or with whatever activity you choose the changes will happen. If you guys really want to make the change, we can use this thread as a support group to help each other out, whether it's planning specific programs, advice, or just a place to vent.

Getting old doesn't mean you stop enjoying life. At 46 now, I feel more content and healthier than at any point in my life. I only wish I had committed to change a lot sooner but better late than never. Like I said originally, I do Crossfit and I like showing people this video:

http://games.crossfit.com/video/vivienne-henderson-fit-61

Lady is 61 years old and proof that being old does not mean you are doomed to be in a wheelchair or using a walker or trapped at home, but you don't have to do Crossfit. The point is that as long as you find something that works for you, it can open up a whole new lifestyle.
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Xmann
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« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2014, 12:20:38 AM »

As an RN and someone who has concentrated on cardiology and currently going through Holistic RN education, I encourage everyone to research statins and cholesterol.

Just like I do with my patients and family members, I don't give medical advice. However, I strongly recommend research before you start taking medications. IMO, and other very well respected MD and scientists in the medical community, statins are perhaps the biggest scam in modern medicine.

High cholesterol in and of itself is not a reason to take a statin. It's much more complicated than that.

I like to point individuals to this site for a good starting point on your personal research. 

https://www.framinghamheartstudy.org

Additionally, i HAD been on a statin myself for numerous years. Even with my education and professional work experience, I took my pill and other supplements to lower my numbers. It wasn't until I started having bone, joint, and muscle issues earlier this year that I started to pay more attention to statins. The long and short of it is that I personally blame simvastatin for contributing to my problems. If you research, the facts are there.

Three months ago I decided to stop taking my meds. I had my blood work done and sure enough my cholesterol was 250+, however, my LDL was awesome.

My doc called me personally and asked if I stopped taking my meds. I told her yes and I that I was done with them (she know my professional background). I also told her my blood pressure was awesome ( 115/65 without medication) and I had recently dropped eating meats to only 1 or 2 times a week. I continue to exercise and have dropped a bit of weight. I do drink beer 2 or 3 times a week and I've never smoked. To my surprise, she told me I was doing great and don't worry about my cholesterol as long as my lifestyle stays the same. I'll add that I really respect her as an MD because she supports a holistic, natural, and preventative lifestyle. Docs like that are hard to come by these days. Not because they don't believe this type of medicine, but the pharmaceutical companies practically force an MDs hand.

I'll also add that my father died at 52 of a massive heart attack. However, he was obese, heavy smoker, and ate garbage daily. He was a ticking time bomb. His father just recently died at age 94. He ate the typical high fat southern diet, but had normal blood pressure and was a small man (150 lbs). I know for a fact he didn't take a statin. He took 1 blood pressure med and a baby aspirin until he died. For me, the proof is in the evidence.

Again, I only offer to encourage each person to make their own decision on if they should take a statin. But the research is there that contradicts the "high cholesterol" causes heart disease and attacks theory. 

Anyone like to guess who funds a lot of those studies?

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ATB
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« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2014, 03:05:29 AM »

Thanks, Xmann. My cholesterol number is at 253, but my LDL is pretty bad and my particle size is significantly greater (2.5x 'big' and 4x 'small') than it's supposed to be. So I figure I'm going to give it a go at the pill for 90 days, see what happens and then reasses.

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Xmann
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« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2014, 09:06:29 PM »

Good for you for understanding the importance of LDL. Not many places check particle size, so that's great you know that as well.

My intentions are always to educate and let everyone know when you should be on a statin and how to educate yourself.

Sounds like you are on top of it.

Would you care to say what medication and dose you were prescribed?  And while 253 is high, that's not awful really. I've seen numbers over twice that.

Also, did you get a A1C checked? That shows blood sugar readings over the course of a few months. That is extremely important to know as is your baseline blood pressure.

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