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Lowering cholesterol without statins-1-year update: good results, but...
Old 01-06-2019, 02:13 PM   #1
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Lowering cholesterol without statins-1-year update: good results, but...

In Dec 2017 I really changed the way I eat (lots more of the good stuff, none of the bad stuff) & upped the exercise in an effort to lower my cholesterol numbers, which had been rising slowly & definitely got my attention. (With a family history of heart disease, I'm very sensitive to this.) I was very diligent about my new routines, & after several months (April 2018) there was a huge improvement (hurrah!). I expected even more improvement at my check-up last week since I've maintained my healthy habits, but the results were a little disappointing; some numbers improved, some didn't. Here are the latest numbers, compared with the results in April 2018 and Dec 2017:

cholesterol -- 205 (197, 258)
triglycerides--53 (90, 112)
HDL -- 76 (71, 71)
LDL -- 119 (108, 165)

Maybe it's unrealistic to hope the numbers will just keep getting better & I guess I should be happy because of the overall improvement. My doctor is pleased. It's just confusing to me that all the numbers don't seem to go in the same direction. Is there anything I can do to bring down that pesky LDL?

Incidentally, I also lost 19.5 pounds, very gradually, since Dec 2017. I knew I'd lost some weight but I was shocked! Weight loss wasn't my goal, though I'd have been happy to lose 5 pounds, maybe 10. I'm pretty thin now & definitely don't need to lose any more. (The doctor said that losing weight, by itself, tends to lower cholesterol.)
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Old 01-06-2019, 02:38 PM   #2
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Interested in following this thread. Just had my first complete blood test in years. Cholesterol NOT good. My Dad and uncles had strokes, presumably cholesterol played a part in those occurences. Meeting with my Doctor later in the month to discuss. I don't smoke, have never. Have maybe one or two drinks A YEAR. I hit the treadmill or the road for 3 to 5 miles probably an average of 6 days a week. My weight is right where it should be due to watching it for decades as I pack on the pounds if I don't.... so no big recent adjustment. My eating habits could include more fruits and veggies. So I don't know what she might suggest. Drugs?
More fruits/veggie? Quit specific food groups?
I retired earlier this year and don't want to be one of those who quit work and then drop over.
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Old 01-06-2019, 03:04 PM   #3
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Interested in following this thread. Just had my first complete blood test in years. Cholesterol NOT good. My Dad and uncles had strokes, presumably cholesterol played a part in those occurences. Meeting with my Doctor later in the month to discuss. I don't smoke, have never. Have maybe one or two drinks A YEAR. I hit the treadmill or the road for 3 to 5 miles probably an average of 6 days a week. My weight is right where it should be due to watching it for decades as I pack on the pounds if I don't.... so no big recent adjustment. My eating habits could include more fruits and veggies. So I don't know what she might suggest. Drugs?
More fruits/veggie? Quit specific food groups?
I retired earlier this year and don't want to be one of those who quit work and then drop over.
Wow, it certainly sounds like your habits are pretty good to start with. I'm not averse to taking statins if needed (most of my siblings do, one has had a heart attack, another has had bypass surgery), but my doctor suggested that I try changing my diet first & give that a few months. That doesn't work for everyone, but it seems to be working for me, at least for now. But it's a major commitment to making permanent changes.

My diet & weight were also pretty good before, but apparently those occasional indulgences really added up. My diet now definitely includes more fruits & veggies (lots of blueberries, spinach & sweet potatoes almost every day), oatmeal every day, lots of salmon, avocados & nuts. I don't count carbs, but I don't eat a lot of bread, never been a big pasta eater, & try to avoid "fake foods." I like pizza, but now it's a special treat. When I feel a craving, I'll have a small whole wheat "everything" bagel. Another treat is "no wheat" pancakes (made with oatmeal & banana); also baked sweet potato fries. I love sweets & desserts but now just don't have them; it's easier for me to say no to a cookie rather than debating constantly whether to have "just one." I must say I never feel hungry or deprived; it seems I'm eating as much as I ever did, just focusing on the good stuff.
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Old 01-06-2019, 03:09 PM   #4
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I lowered mine 40 points in a month using over the counter Cholespure. It’s a capsule.
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Old 01-06-2019, 04:20 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by lucky penny View Post
In Dec 2017 I really changed the way I eat (lots more of the good stuff, none of the bad stuff) & upped the exercise in an effort to lower my cholesterol numbers, which had been rising slowly & definitely got my attention. (With a family history of heart disease, I'm very sensitive to this.) I was very diligent about my new routines, & after several months (April 2018) there was a huge improvement (hurrah!). I expected even more improvement at my check-up last week since I've maintained my healthy habits, but the results were a little disappointing; some numbers improved, some didn't. Here are the latest numbers, compared with the results in April 2018 and Dec 2017:

cholesterol -- 205 (197, 258)
triglycerides--53 (90, 112)
HDL -- 76 (71, 71)
LDL -- 119 (108, 165)

Maybe it's unrealistic to hope the numbers will just keep getting better & I guess I should be happy because of the overall improvement. My doctor is pleased. It's just confusing to me that all the numbers don't seem to go in the same direction. Is there anything I can do to bring down that pesky LDL?

Incidentally, I also lost 19.5 pounds, very gradually, since Dec 2017. I knew I'd lost some weight but I was shocked! Weight loss wasn't my goal, though I'd have been happy to lose 5 pounds, maybe 10. I'm pretty thin now & definitely don't need to lose any more. (The doctor said that losing weight, by itself, tends to lower cholesterol.)
Those negative swings are data points (minor at that). It's the long term trend that matters. Keep up the awesome work.
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Old 01-06-2019, 05:17 PM   #6
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I would be so happy to have those numbers. Great job!
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Old 01-06-2019, 05:21 PM   #7
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My doctor told me diet matters little. Genetics are number 1, followed by activity/exercise.
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Old 01-06-2019, 05:48 PM   #8
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Your numbers look good to me. My total cholesterol seems to hover in the 225 to 250 range if I don't watch what I eat and exercise and watch weight. I tend to have high LDL and low triclycerides. That is often a sign of eating a lower carb diet. During 2015 I got down to total cholesterol and LDL numbers somewhat similar to yours. That was a year that I got to my goal weight, exercised a lot, and ate a lower carb diet. Not super low, but I did pay attention.

FWIW I recently tested at 223 total cholesterol and my doctor wasn't that concerned although he suggested I look at diet. When I told him that I don't eat beef, watch saturated fat already, eat fairly low sugar he didn't really have much suggestions.

Anyway - I suspect that for you to get significantly lower you might need to take a statin and given your family history you could talk to your doctor about it. I took statins in the past and they did normalize those numbers for me but in recent years doctors haven't been as eager to put me on them. But, while I do have family history of high cholesterol I don't have family history of heart disease.
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Old 01-06-2019, 05:50 PM   #9
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Those are awesome cholesterol numbers if you are concerned with those things. It's obvious that you have cut back significantly on carbohydrates as indicated by your Triglyceride numbers. Current guidelines are if your Tri's/HDL is less than 2 then you are in the low risk range. LDL is not really a marker today as they do not test for the subset that supposedly puts one at risk.

I am not a believer in the cholesterol theory; however have tracked my numbers since 1982 when I first joined the service.

You may find these videos interesting:



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Old 01-06-2019, 07:43 PM   #10
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Those are awesome cholesterol numbers if you are concerned with those things. It's obvious that you have cut back significantly on carbohydrates as indicated by your Triglyceride numbers. Current guidelines are if your Tri's/HDL is less than 2 then you are in the low risk range. LDL is not really a marker today as they do not test for the subset that supposedly puts one at risk.

I am not a believer in the cholesterol theory; however have tracked my numbers since 1982 when I first joined the service.
+1. Triglyceride/HDL ratio is the best predictor of cardiovascular disease, and yours is outstanding, at less than 1.0. I wouldn't worry about your cholesterol or LDL numbers, as those don't really mean a whole lot in terms of heart disease risk. I would personally never take a statin drug if I had lipid numbers like you do. There is a lot of outdated information out there on cholesterol, which is not really accurate, or based on good science. People with somewhat higher cholesterol actually tend to live longer than those with low cholesterol.

I recently started a thread on the forum on this topic, which may be of interest to you. You can find it here:

Cholesterol and Heart Disease - what you've been led to believe is all wrong
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Old 01-06-2019, 07:48 PM   #11
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Totally agree Rae. I would never take statins.
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Old 01-06-2019, 08:16 PM   #12
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Scratchy, thanks for the information about new guidelines. I think blindly following a doctor is not something I will do but will be right for some. I like to listen to doctors, read and make my own decisions. I read the book Undoctored and it was very interesting.
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Old 01-06-2019, 08:35 PM   #13
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I read Undoctored by Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist, also. Got it at the library so did not buy it (waiting for the "I hate drs who write books" poster to weigh in...he is a hoot!).

Did not think everything in it was practical for me, I eat low carb, but not as low as recommended in that book. Also, some of the supplements recommended are at dosages that seem risky, or at least uncomfortable, such as rather high doses of magnesium.
what was good were some of the very tasty and easy to make low carb recipes.

prefer the book by Dr. Micheal Ludwig as it delves more deeply into the science behind his advice and is not quite so preachy. Also has good recipes but the undoctored ones are even better
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Old 01-07-2019, 09:42 AM   #14
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cholesterol -- 205 (197, 258)
triglycerides--53 (90, 112)
HDL -- 76 (71, 71)
LDL -- 119 (108, 165)

Is there anything I can do to bring down that pesky LDL?
Your LDL number is computed from TC/HDL/TG using the Friedewald formula, which is only accurate when TG >= 100. When TG < 100 you should use the "Iranian" formula (so-called because it was published in an Iranian medical journal). Using the Iranian formula your LDL is 93 .

You could verify this with a more expensive test (VAP or NMR) that directly measures LDL. I had a VAP test done in 2011, and the measured LDL matched the Iranian formula with TG=62. The Friedewald formula was off by 30 points.
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Old 01-07-2019, 10:19 AM   #15
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Diet and exercise will only do so much. You can't do anything about genetics and that's #1.
You have done a great job getting them lower with what you can control. Good for you!
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Old 01-07-2019, 01:35 PM   #16
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The new thinking is to look at the Triglycerides--your are wonderful. What is your CRP. Many would not worry about the LDL. Has your doc ordered a NMR to look at particle size? That is important to know. Have oyu had a calcium artery scan? Check out cholesterolcode.com Good luck
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Old 01-07-2019, 08:10 PM   #17
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I wonder what the uncertainty is in those numbers. For instance, if you had your blood drawn and tested 3 weeks in a row, would the numbers jump about by 5, 10, 20 or more? I think so.

That is, what is a real significant change?
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Old 01-07-2019, 08:34 PM   #18
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It aggravates the heck out of me how doctors buy into the whole 'statin is good' crap from the pharmaceutical companies. I did the same as you; doc said I needed 'em and I decided to give diet and exercise a crack first. I went back at 6 and 12 months only to find out I'm worse off than ever! Bacon did more for lowering my #'s than avocado and cottage cheese. So I asked the doc to give me some #'s about where I'm at and where the statins would put me. I first asked what my risk was as-is for heart disease. He said I'm in the 95 percentile, meaning men my age have a 5% risk of heart attack. I asked him how much the statins would improve that. He glowed when he said it would reduce my chance for a heart attack by 50%. WHAT?!! 50% of 5% is 2.5%. Taking a statin would reduce my odds of heart attack by 2.5%. That's all. Oh, did I mention the margin of error for the data is 3%? Statistically, the drug does nothing for me. I quizzed him about those #'s and all he could do was parrot what the drug manufacturers told him.

So, then I asked more about those #'s and what they represent. They represent where the average person should be at. I asked him who is average. I'm not. I intake way too much salt, but my blood pressure is low for example. Maybe MY body is designed for a cholesterol level right where it is. Diet and exercise show me it pretty much is.

I ended up telling the doctor I would not take the pills that the pharmaceuticals push him to proscribe when the results, based on his own #'s, tell me it's pretty much worthless. Side effects from a drug he told me I would need to take the rest of my life be damned as far as he was concerned; take the drug he said. The hell I will.


****EDIT****
He made note on my medical record I refused to take the drug. I wonder if ACA or single payer may, some day, refuse certain treatments for me since I was unwilling to take the pills as directed.
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Old 01-08-2019, 06:11 AM   #19
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I ended up telling the doctor I would not take the pills that the pharmaceuticals push him to proscribe when the results, based on his own #'s, tell me it's pretty much worthless.
For those with no prior history of heart problems, the benefits of taking a statin over five years:
  • Life saved: none
  • Prevented heart attack: 1 in 104
  • Prevented stroke: 1 in 154
and the harms for that same group over five years:
  • 1 in 50 developed diabetes
  • 1 in 10 developed muscle damage
Statin Drugs Given for 5 Years for Heart Disease Prevention (Without Known Heart Disease)

And another similar study:
Statins in Persons at Low Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:26 PM   #20
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Instead of refusing statins I let the doctor prescribe and then I never pick them up. Sure beats arguing about it.
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