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So, I recently went to the doctor and had bloodwork and the like for the first time since I was a kid. Everything was fine for the most part, but the doctor said my cholesterol was really high?? It was so high that she's having me redo the bloodwork to see if there was a mistake, because someone of my age and weight, who exercises at least some, shouldn't have cholesterol so high.

 

If the numbers are right she says it's probably genetic and not a result of something I did...but I can't help but feel responsible. I know there is definitely a lot more I could have been doing for my health. And I'm reluctant to have to start taking medicine for it for the rest of my life if it's confirmed, so I'd like to try to control it through diet/lifestyle improvements if it's possible.

 

Has anyone had any experience with lowering cholesterol through changing their diet? What kind of things should I focus on eating and what kind of foods should I avoid? I've been moving towards paleo/primal lately, but I've also heard that can actually increase cholesterol, so I'm feeling kind of lost about what to do!

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When you get the results, post them. The total number doesn't matter so much as the ratios between HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. So long as your triglycerides are ok, and your HDL is pretty high, then it's less of a concern if your LDL is also high. Plus statin drugs have been shown to not really help at all, and lead to all kinds of other issues, including diabetes. 

 

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-interpret-cholesterol-test-results/#axzz3XhQjQcXA

 

http://chriskresser.com/the-diet-heart-myth-statins-dont-save-lives-in-people-without-heart-disease

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A lot of doctors are starting to second guess cholesterol's role in heart disease, much like what happened with fat in recent years. I personally have pretty high LDL cholesterol even though I eat healthier and exercise more than anyone I know (granted I know some pretty unhealthy people lol). The science behind cholesterol is very old and the big pharm companies make too much money treating cholesterol to change anything.

 

Eat healthy, exercise, use sugar very moderately or not at all as it is inflammatory by nature.

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A lot of doctors are starting to second guess cholesterol's role in heart disease, much like what happened with fat in recent years. I personally have pretty high LDL cholesterol even though I eat healthier and exercise more than anyone I know (granted I know some pretty unhealthy people lol). The science behind cholesterol is very old and the big pharm companies make too much money treating cholesterol to change anything.

 

Eat healthy, exercise, use sugar very moderately or not at all as it is inflammatory by nature.

I just had 2 experiences that relate to cholestrol and Dr's second guessing cholestrol.

 

I recently recieved my free physical at work which is extremely detailed.  My levels were acceptable.  Dr told me that researchers are now finding that about 70% of cholestrol level is genetic, exercise might be able to control 10-20%, and diet only 10% at best.  Granted that was one opinion.

 

I also recently listened to "The Big Fat Surprise" on audiotape which provides a lot of the history on studies relating to the studies discussing cholestrol and it's debatable relationship to heart disease, how the author of an initial study used to provide "evidence" that high cholestrol showed causation to heart disease, how this person became head of the AHI which then controlled funding for studies supporting his theory and squashed competing theories, how heart disease and obesity increased in America despite the low fat craze of the 80's - 90's, how science ignored the fact that studies on the Inuit showed extremely low rates of heart disease despite eating amongst the highest fat content percentages of any group on the planet (up to the point Western man began supply carbs), and on an on.  Very long and detailed book but highly worth reading.

 

I'm not saying that those 2 things prove or disprove anything.  But they have left me highly skeptical, especially the book and the example of the Inuits as well as other examples.  Now if I had off the chart numbers that your first test showed and followup testing confirmed it, then I would have to weigh that in. 

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I just got the second blood test this morning, so I'll report here when I have the numbers. 

 

If it's confirmed, I'll probably to make lifestyle changes to lower the cholesterol first before I agree to take medicine for it. I'm really reluctant to take it because of side effects that especially seem stronger in women and because I just dislike medicine unless it's really necessary. 

 

But on the other hand, despite new evidence and opinions questioning the benefits of statins for primary care, it might be hard to say no when my doctor tells me I might develop heart disease if I don't take them. Because that's really scary. We'll see what she says.

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But on the other hand, despite new evidence and opinions questioning the benefits of statins for primary care, it might be hard to say no when my doctor tells me I might develop heart disease if I don't take them. Because that's really scary. We'll see what she says.

Using fear as a motivator on a subject with large amounts of evidence to the contrary seems like a pretty crappy way to practice medicine. There's plenty of good, unbiased research out there that shows statins are not the answer. If you can get your hands on this book it will help simplify a lot of the medical mumbo jumbo and arm you with some knowledge to take to the doctor with you. If she keeps pushing drugs as the only way, perhaps it's time to look for a new GP.

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Thanks for the recommendation! And my doc's not pushing at this point. She just made it sound like that's what she'd tell me to do if the results are confirmed.

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I'm deeply suspicious of the fuss over cholesterol, so I'd like to hear the end of this story too.  I suspect high cholesterol simply runs in my family because people with perfectly healthy lifestyles have it.   and am wondering what'll happen when I get my own profile done.  (In god's good time, thank you American healthcare...)

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I'd be interested in hearing the results if you feel like sharing.  After my readings, I'm skeptical about claims regarding cholesterols impact on health.  However, most levels are sited as being low, normal, or high, not "off the chart".  I'm curious about what an off the chart reading is and why it might be off the chart.  But only if you feel like sharing.

 

One thing to remember about the AHA (American Heart Association).  This is the same organization that sold its seal of approval for fruit loops cereal.

 

Again, I'm not recommending you disregard your Dr's advice, especially since your level was measured as off the chart.  I just have so little faith anymore in the science behind the whole cholesterol causes heart disease theory after some of the things I've read.

 

Wish you the best.

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I'd be interested in hearing the results if you feel like sharing.  After my readings, I'm skeptical about claims regarding cholesterols impact on health.  However, most levels are sited as being low, normal, or high, not "off the chart".  I'm curious about what an off the chart reading is and why it might be off the chart.  But only if you feel like sharing.

 

One thing to remember about the AHA (American Heart Association).  This is the same organization that sold its seal of approval for fruit loops cereal.

 

Again, I'm not recommending you disregard your Dr's advice, especially since your level was measured as off the chart.  I just have so little faith anymore in the science behind the whole cholesterol causes heart disease theory after some of the things I've read.

 

Wish you the best.

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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
Diet is 80% of losing weight, exercise is 80% of motivation.

The only thing I am 100% sure of is my ability to be wrong.

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Raincloak - Yeah, it seems to run in my family too. But if someone with an otherwise healthy lifestyle has high cholesterol, does that then mean they should take statins? That's where the doc is coming from. I'm suspicious of the fuss too, but reluctant to act like I know more than my doctor. 

 

Peelout - I'll share when I get the results! The first reading was like 330 for my overall number.

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Yeah, it seems to run in my family too. But if someone with an otherwise healthy lifestyle has high cholesterol, does that then mean they should take statins? That's where the doc is coming from. I'm suspicious of the fuss too, but reluctant to act like I know more than my doctor. 

I agree that would be very hard to do.  And with Dr's so expensive, its hard/expensive to get second opinions.

 

Best advice for now, keep working out, eating healthy, and wait for the results.

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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
Diet is 80% of losing weight, exercise is 80% of motivation.

The only thing I am 100% sure of is my ability to be wrong.

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This book seems to be creating a buzz as far as cholesterol is concerned, so it might be worth a read. Even Dr. Oz is getting on board the anti-cholesterol bandwagon. He may be a bit of a money whore, but he was and still is a very highly regarded cardiologist, so I'm sure he has seem a lot of bad tickers in his time.

 

Cholesterol is considered a risk factor for heart disease, not a cause, they actually aren't sure what the primary cause really is. Cholesterol just happens to be the easiest to test for. I'm not saying you should ignore it, but I would be wary of a doctor willing to put a young person on a lifelong medication that has such bad side effects based on a single risk factor. Regardless of your doctor's experience and education YOU are responsible for your own health first and foremost, It is everyone's responsibility to educate themselves as much as possible on any conditions they may have or medications they may take.

 

Smoking is a huge risk factor for heart disease as is alcoholism, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and family history of heart disease.

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A good doctor will be willing to work with you.

 

I stopped taking my statin since my last blood work.  Just this morning I saw my doctor and had my blood drawn.  I told her I'd like to see how my diet and exercise does for the numbers, and that in six months after the next round of blood tests if she still thought I should be on it I'd start taking again.  She was fine with that.

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Thank you all for your advice!

 

Both tests were fasted. I got the numbers back today and they were confirmed high. 304 overall cholesterol, with LDL 210 HDL 68 and Triglycerides 129. She said that given how high they are and how young I am, she thinks it's genetic. And I've confirmed that it runs in both sides of my family. 

 

lctrc - I'm doing something similar. The doc recommended meds but I told her I want to try improving it through lifestyle first. She seems kind of skeptical, but she didn't argue and she's having me tested again in 3 months. Her advice was limited - she said to get 150 minutes of exercise per week and eat a low fat, low cholesterol diet. 

 

I'm completely skeptical of the dietary cholesterol = blood cholesterol mindset though. I'm planning to increase exercise, cut sugar/grains, and increase vegetables/fiber and see if that helps. Maybe start taking fish oil.

 

In the meantime, I've made a list of studies and resources and I'm planning to go through one a day to educate myself. If there are no changes in 3 months and she's still pushing meds, I might consider it. At the least I'll be able to explain my concerns confidently to her and talk to her more about my overall risk factors. I might talk to a specialist first if she still recommends them, and go from there.

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Sounds like you're on the right track. Increasing your vegetable intake while reducing sugar intake will have loads of benefits outside of lowering your triglyceride levels (which are probably more of a concern than your LDL since you don't have specific numbers for the types of LDL).

If you have another opportunity for a blood test, I would recommend asking them to test your c-reactive protein. C-reactive protein is a marker for inflammation which, ultimately, is the cause of cardiovascular dysfunction. If you have low levels of inflammation (the magic number here is <1.0mg/L) in your body, you can have all the cholesterol in the world floating around and it won't do any damage, so having that tested will be a much better indicator for whether or not you're actually at risk of having a heart episode. 

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Thanks for the tip! I'll ask about that next time I go in.

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I'm not making a stance one way or the other, but the "fact" that high cholesterol causes heart disease and other issues is being questioned more and more these days (also the "benefits" of the low fat diet).  Sometimes more information is good, other times it's just confusing.  

 

From:  http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/07/27/saturated-fat-cholesterol.aspx

 

The cholesterol myth has suffered a bit of a triple whammy of late, making it harder and harder for heart specialists to uphold the company line. This information is just the latest in a long line of science disproving the need for the saturated fat phobia.

Researchers also found that, if you're a woman, your risk for heart disease, cardiac arrest, and stroke are higher with lower cholesterol levels.3

They also did not find less heart disease among those eating higher amounts of unsaturated fat, including both olive oil and corn oil.

  1. In 2012, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology examined the health and lifestyle habits of more than 52,000 adults ages 20 to 74, concluding that women with "high cholesterol" (greater than 270 mg/dl) had a 28 percent lower mortality risk than women with "low cholesterol" (less than 183 mg/dl).
  2. In 2013, a prominent London cardiologist by the name of Aseem Malhotraargued in the British Medical Journal that you should ignore advice to reduce your saturated fat intake, because it's actually increasing your riskfor obesity and heart disease.4
  3. Then in March 2014, a new meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, using data from nearly 80 studies and more than a half million people, found that those who consume higher amounts of saturated fat have no more heart disease than those who consume less.

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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
Diet is 80% of losing weight, exercise is 80% of motivation.

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Even if you buy into the accepted current medical position that high cholesterol is bad, it's one of many risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, age, and a family history of heart conditions are all considered potential risks. Given that you're still young, and that you clearly have the drive, you have lots of time to experiment with diet and exercise if you want to get your numbers down before trying a statin. And, I don't think anyone will argue that less sugar and grains, and more veggies and exercise is ever a bad idea. I'll even say that if you want to limit dietary cholesterol and saturated fats as a test, there's not a lot of harm in that either. Just be sure to get sufficient helathy fat and HDL-boosting compounds as well.

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 Azotus

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Thanks azotus, that's a comforting way to look at it. My doc's theory is that it's genetic so nothing I do will help, but I don't think I'm so healthy that I can't lower it at all. She knows that I run so she assumes I get enough exercise, but I'd say I'm more sedentary that is healthy despite occasional running.

 

We'll see what happens. If nothing else good comes out of all this, at least my motivation to cut sugar/eat healthier has shot through the roof. I won't consent to scary drugs without confirming whether this is within my power to control first.

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Okay, so I'm getting to this a little late, but I had really high cholesterol two years ago.  Mine was even higher than yours.. The doctor I go to isn't one to push meds on someone, so he gave me a chance to see if I could lower it on my own.  Also, my dad's side of the family has horribly high cholesterol.  We happen to have a nutritionist at the office, so I started to see her, as well as follow the list of suggestions he gave me.  Fish oil is a for sure thing to try!  I was never put on medication and two years later my cholesterol is perfectly in range :D  If you want, I can always give you the list of suggestions from my doctor!  

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Yes please! I'd love to see what worked for you. :) I've cut almost all sugar, so I'm hoping that will have an impact.

 

How long did it take you to get yours down? My doctor gave me 3 months before she wants me to come in and get re-tested, and I have no idea whether that's realistic or not. 

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I went in every three months, but since it was going down (slowly) every three months my doctor never put me on medication!  It took me about two years to get it all in range, but I did it on my own without being put on medication.  I'll get you the list tomorrow!!!

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Thank you! :)

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Being alive is heckn swell. 

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