High colestorol 6.1: I have high... - British Heart Fou...

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High colestorol 6.1

I have high colesterol for years but always resisted taking medication. My doctor said my diet is healthy, i dont smoke or drink much and i should exercise more to bring the bad levels down. I havnt succeeded. Im not a lover of exercise though i do walk a fair bit most days weather permitting. Im now 55 and concerned I am never going to get my levels down from 6.1 to a normal reading. I also have hypothydorism which is under control with medication. Would welcome anyone else that managed to get their levels down without taking statins. Thanks.

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Hello and welcome to the forum! You say you do not want to take statins. Any particular reason - they do get a lot of rather undeserved press.

You may be able to get to a healthy level (probably 4.0 or below) with a relatively extreme (in my opinion) diet. Others can advise on this.

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Hi Toddysinger. I resisted taking statins even when my GP recommended them because of my family history. I had a balanced diet, a non smoker, an excellent exercise regime and hardly ever drink alcohol. My cholesterol was 4.8. I reached 68 and had a heart attack on my birthday. I was told I was lucky and my cholesterol should be 2:0! I now take statins along with all the other medications.

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Ah ok wow that’s a worry. I have no history of it in my family. Do you have any side effects from the statins?

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The one thing to remember is there is more than one type of statin. I got muscle aches with Simvastatin but no issues with Atorvastatin.

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Ha ha, I went sleep walking on Atorvastatin.

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oh lord LOL

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I went sleep-walking one night while we were on a cruise. I went out of the cabin in my undies. Luckily, I didn't go overboard. We barricaded ourselves in the cabin every night after that. Phew! I am off the statins now so we can laugh about it.

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LOL. How long were you on them? I thought once on them you shouldnt come off? Bit like with thyroxin - its a lifer!

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I was on them for about a year. I changed my lifestyle after watching the film "Forks Over Knives" so my BP, cholesterol and pulse came down to levels where i didn't need the meds any more. I am only on Clopidogrel to stop my blood being "too sticky", as my doctor puts it.

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i will make a point to watch the movie, thank you

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Yep forks over knives and dairy is scary kept hubby and I on an even keel,we've been vegan for 18 months now and never been healthier

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I have a high cholesterol level, I asked about my HDL against my LDLs and the doc said I had HDLs, so not to worry

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Hi Maisie, So glad to hear that you came though your ordeal. However their is no evidence other than that provided by the drugs companies and their associates that a Cholesterol level of 4.8 is a major factor in heart disease. Only recently the “correct “ level was to be below 6.0. Now it has been decided arbitrarily that it should be below 4.0! It has been reported that least 50% of those suffering heart attacks had what is considered “normal” cholesterol readings. I was taking statins and had a sever angina attack resulting in a bypass, I think it more likely that, like me, your family history was the most important factor in all this! Hope your recovery goes well.

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Yes thanks PhilGM I’m getting there as I hope you are too. I never thought cholesterol played any part in heart disease but I’m not taking any chances with my future. I don’t want my stent furring up so I’ll continue to take them.

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Not really. I’m on Atorvastatin which isn’t bad. I have allergies to a lot of medications but I can tolerate this one.

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Dietary advice from a doctor is usually little better than bland, vague cliches. My next door neighbour is a doctor, he can't recall attending a single lecture on nutrition during his training. Consequently you'll find better dietary advice in the various BHF leaflets than you'll get from most GP's.

Reducing cholesterol without medication is tricky. After eating the correct diet, exercise and weight loss are the critical things. The BHF and the NHS are clear that when they say exercise what they really mean is 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise per week. Moderate intensity means you can still speak individual sentences, but you're breathing too hard to hold a proper conversation. The 150 minutes excludes the 15 minute warm up and 10 minute cool down before and after each session. Add that all up and it's a huge commitment to squeeze into a busy life,

Meaningful life style changes are pretty gruelling and massively inconvenient, too difficult unfortunately for most people. That's a key reason why doctors hand out medication like jelly babies...they simply don't believe their patients have the flexibility or dedication to stick with the kind of serious life style changes required.

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Agree with all the above, im not good at disciplining myself when it comes to excercise. I am loosing weight and adjusting diet so lets see what the next blood test shows up in 2 months.

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When my recent problems started in 2016 my doctor prescribed medication. I asked him what I could do about my high blood pressure myself and he said "Diet and exercise". I asked him why he didn't say that in the first place and he replied that he used to but no-one would do it so he stopped advising it. "Diet and exercise" has made a massive difference for me.

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Brazil nuts: nutritionfacts.org/video/fo...

This video shows medical evidence that they are as effective as statins.

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You may find it helpful to do a post on Thyroid UK (on healthunlocked) as Thyroid dysfunction (of any degree) can influence Cholesterol/Lipid levels.

It's best to get the printout of your lab results with the reference ranges (they should be listed next to result).

Of all the Lipids that will be listed, the Triglycerides and the HDL are (in my opinion) the most important.. as is HbA1C.

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Yes its something i am aware of, its a mindfield because some foods that are good for cholestorol are not so for thyroid function. Does my head in really. Wish I had the money to see a dietician/nutritionist to think for me.

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It's best to get the printout of your lab results with the reference ranges (they should be listed next to each result).

Of all the Lipids that will be listed, the Triglycerides and the HDL are (in my opinion) the most important.. as is HbA1C.

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Ask your GP to refer you to an nhs dietician if you are determined to do it by diet and exercise they should help you. Also you said you were aware thyroid problems complicated things then mentioned diet conflict. To reiterate Londiniums reply. You need to know the individual results, not all cholesterol is 'bad'. Also having thyroid problems predisposes to higher cholesterol and potentially atherosclerosis you need all this information to make an informed choice. HbA1C is a long term indicater of sugar levels if this is also high it also increases your risk of hardened narrowed arteries. You need to assess the risks with all the information. Good luck.

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I’m in same boat. Cholesterols level is 7.0. I’m 58. Family history of high cholesterol on my mother’s side. Trying to lower this myself. I’m now moving more ie my step counter is 10000 most days, I’m now going to the gym and lifting weights and using the resistance equipment. I also do Pilates once a week too. I was given the very restrictive NHS diet sheet as like others I want to stave off lifetime medication for as long as possible as I hate even taking paracetamol for a headache. I’ve also joined a Facebook group for weighloss (Team RH) which I’ve now followed for 3 weeks and am 3.5lbs down! Hopefully when I get my yearly review I will have brought my cholesterol down.

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Hi, 67 yr old Male,I was 15 stn, walked regularly, on 20mg atorvastatin plus blood pressure tab for 2 years , I had heart attack while swimming, 18 months ago, went straight on 80mg atorvastatin, ramapril ,asprin and bisoperal the same as many people on here. My ldl is now 0.18, triglycerides 0.16, hdl ,good cholesterol 2.8. Weight now 13 stn. Walk daily, gym once a week , eat healthy. Non of us thought it would happen to them, it happens, it comes right out of the blue, you live or die , statins can make a huge difference, try them, no harm in that, as hgv driver you need exercise, do all you can to stay alive, do not bury your head in the sand. Good luck

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Thank you

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Hello. My Cholesterol was 6.5. The average was in normal range and had been for years. My GP said this was acceptable. Never smoked, exercised regularly, ate well and drank moderately. Had a heart attack in January due to blocked arteries. Switched to plant stanols Cut out the alcohol and went on Statins plus all the usual post attack meds. Reduced my cholesterol to 2.4 in a month.

Currently steady at 3. I guess the major effect was the statins. I hate the side effects but perhaps if I’d been on statins several years earlier I might have avoided the attack. However my Cardiologist says it’s in my genes so maybe not. In the end it’s quality of life vs quantity and if statins allow me to me keep the cholesterol down without going tee total or missing the occasional sweets and cakes then I’ll live with the side effects

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what side effects do you suffer?

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Hard to say which side effects are from which tablets! However overall, aches in the joints and random muscle twinges, some lightheadedness, general lethargy and stomach upsets. I'm going to the Cardiologist and GP next week for a 6 months review. Nothing debilitating just annoying and could be due also to cutting right back on the demanding exercise schedule pre heart attack.

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When I went to my specialist my cholestrol was 10.2 that was three years ago . Last week I had another blood test that showed it to be 1.8 .

This was achieved through diet and statins . The statins were an issue initially but swapping and changing allowed me to be able continue with them which as you can see has been successful.

In my instance they felt my cholesterol levels were hereditary so although you still have to watch what you eat its a battle you are never going to win.

The worse I experienced with statins were aches and pains in the joints, but as mentioned there are many statins to choose from so its a case of finding one that suits > Regards

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Hi, please do some research before jumping into taking statins. There is a lot of newer studies that show cholesterol isn’t the cause of heart disease at all. If it was then why do so many people with normal / low cholesterol still have heart attacks. Also evidence that statins causes calcification of arteries now too. It’s a minefield really that we just don’t know what we’re taking.

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I;m 72. I got my cholesterol down from 6.2 to 5.0 over the last year or so. They key was an anti-inflamatory diet. I cut out almost all foods with refined sugar or white flour. Increased nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkinn seeds), My so called 5-a-day is more like 12 to 15 a day. I do moderate varied exercise. I haver refused statins.

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I have refused them for years too. But still seems the levels are on the up.

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Statins have absolutely no benefit for women, Toddysinger. We are predisposed to have more cholesterol because we are the ones who produce babies, and we need it for cell production, apart from anything else. If you don't want to take them, then don't. An average cholesterol level, in the UK, is between 7 and 9, which suggests that anything between these two is "normal". A good diet, enjoying whatever exercise you like, laughing a lot and being happy are the very best things to be doing, in my opinion. Do a bit of research and see if you can discover why the magic figure of 5 or under was decided upon as being a preferred cholesterol level. To me, it seems to be rather like "five a day" for fruit and vegetables - there is no actual science behind that, either. No doubt all the statins supporters will now blast my post, and that's fine, we're all entitled to our opinions. Cholesterol is produced by our bodies, which suggests to me that we actually need it, it's not there to kill us. I wish you the very best in life.

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Most clinical specialists say that diet and exercise will allow reduction by 10% or so. Possibly up to 20% if you start from a worse place. Genetic Cholesterol is the main cause of heart attacks in my family, and statins should stabilse this and also the plaque. So look at your family history, if there are many ha then think seriously about statins. If there are few then you can take your own view on it. I would take them even just on a statistical basis. After a ha you will have limited choice if you don't want another one.

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No one in my family have high cholestoral, heart disease, heart failure or heart attacks. I have always taken this into consideration and its one of the reasons why I have refused them. I think i am just worried now because I am menopausal and 55 with an underactive thyroid. I have had some great feedback from everyone on here with varied views so yes I will consider all and research before i try them. I incidently did the same with HRT, resisted it for 5 years and now decided to take it for a year to see how I felt. If I take statins - thats 3 manufactured medications I am taking. Eeekk.

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Hi there, I am not a doctor but very much into fitness and health. However, I can share my experience with you. There is such pressure on the nhs that I believe as patients we should be our own doctors. I have never had a high cholesterol always been healthy and exercise 4/5 times per week. I still ended up having a heart attack and had to have a stent. My cardiologist said its very important to take statins. Statins reduce cholesterol and research shows that statins(cholesterol tablets) strengthens the heart. As mentioned earlier its important to talk to your GP. I personally think you are better off taking statins than not. Good luck and wish you all the best.

Hope this helps.

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Statins deplete the heart and the entire body of CoQ10. Your Triglycerides and HDL and HbA1C would've revealed whether your dietary regime was in need of some change. It's not all about "high cholesterol" and "exercise 4-5 times per week".

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Thats interesting! My cardiologist takes statins and he doesn’t even have cholesterol. Where did you read this, please share. In any case its a must for CVD patients

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You had cardiovascular disease without ever having had high cholesterol? So your cardiovascular disease wasn't caused by "high Cholesterol"?

It'd be interesting to hear what dietary regime you generally followed over the decades, and whether you had any other health condition throughout those decades? And what your results (with reference ranges) were/are for Triglycerides, HDL, HbA1C, Vit D3 and Vit B12?

I've always had high Cholesterol.. never taken statins.. and the calcification score of my CAC heart scan was just over 7. But I've taken various nutritional supplements over the years.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/256...

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I have always checked my cholesterol in the last 12 years and the highest its been is 5.2 when I ate lots of desert on holiday. Very healthy and fit but I do love diary and now i only eat 0% fat or low fat just to be safe. My weight is ideal, I exercise regularly and my vit D, b12 and all the ones you mention have all been perfect. I think it was just bad luck

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So your cholesterol was 5.2 at the highest point, and mine was between 11 and 12. You had cardiovascular disease and stents. But I didn't. My calcification is 7.1 (which is mild) but my cholesterol is double what yours was (5.2) at your highest point. So your condition wasn't caused by cholesterol. So, what was it caused by?

What was/is your Vit D3 and B12 score? You say it was/is perfect, but what is your definition of perfect?

You said your diet was/is healthy, but what was/is your definition of a healthy diet?

CVD doesn't rest upon one's "cholesterol" level alone. If it did, you wouldn't have had the CVD and stents.

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Actually with a CAC score of 7.1 you do have cardiovascular disease, though not very severe. Any score above zero shows CVD.

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I'm very well aware of what 7 or 7.1 means. A score of zero is excellent. A score of 7.1 is very low, is considered mild and requires NO treatment.

But you side-stepped and missed the entire point. If calcification is caused by "high cholesterol", why did ShockedWithStent have profound cardiovascular disease that needed stents.. when there was never a high cholesterol, and the score of 5.2 was the highest ever cholesterol score?

On the other hand, I have a low score of 7.1, but have always had a high cholesterol and have never used statins.

0 None

0-10 Minimum

11-100 Mild

101-400 Moderate

401-1000 Severe

>1000 Very severe

patient.info/doctor/coronar...

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I believe any calcium score over 0 indicates that you have coronary heart disease , athersclerosis, to some degree.

I wonder if you had taken statins if this would still have happened?

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I've already provided my viewpoint and the calcification chart's viewpoint. I'm in the category next up from ZERO. I even provided the calcification chart and the link to the chart. So I'm in the category next up from ZERO, despite my never having had cholesterol within the reference range. Ever.

So maybe you'd now like to answer the issue that I put forth? 🤔 Don't you think that if the hypothesis of Cholesterol being the Cause of severe CVD, that I would have long ago had the severe CVD and required the stents, etc? But instead, I'm only in the category above ZERO.

Meanwhile, ShockedWithStent never had high Cholesterol, but required stents.

Where does that leave your hypothesis? 🤔

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/256...

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I was simply ( like fergusthe great) correcting your previous assertion that a CAC score of 7.1 means you do not have cardiovascular disease. Only a zero CAC score means that - any positive CAC score means some degree of atherosclerosis. Obviously age and gender has to be taken into account e.g. for a 50 year old woman 7.1 would be in the 89th percentile (84% of 50 year old women have a CAC score of zero) whereas for a 60 year old woman, it would be better, in the 70th percentile' as only 64% of 60 year old pwomen have a CAC score of zero. I am zero with excellent lipids but if I had any positive score I would certainly take a statin to avoid progression.

Shockedwithstent had a heart attack and needed a single stent. The usual problem in this scenario is a clot - and she was probably as she says, just unlucky. If she had been identified as high risk her target total cholesterol would have been under 4. You on the other hand have been lucky and in both cases genetics likely plays a large part.

However, individual outlying cases like this are merely anecdotal not scientific evidence and are entirely meaningless compared with the data from large scale trials which show clearly the link between high LDL and cardiovascular disease and the benefits of lowering LDL and statins in preventing heart attacks.

It's not 'our hypothesis' - it's the scientific consensus.

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You need to read my replies properly. I never said that a CAC score of 7.1 means that I "do not have cardiovascular disease". Let me remind you AGAIN, that I even provided the calcification chart and the link to that chart.

Not only am I not in the "very severe" (your phrase) category, I am also not in the severe, the moderate or the mild category. I am, instead, in the "minimum" category, which is the category just above ZERO. And it is most probably because of my ongoing research that I am only in that category.

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I don't think you understand the argument fully. If you can stay calm and discuss this without using capital letters I will continue.

I agree totally with you about it being not simply about cholesterol. I have low cholesterol and have stents.

It's about inflammation and damage to the endothelial layer that allows small paricle ldl to enter the arterial wall.

The reason that a lot of people like yourself who have high cholesterol but very little heart disease is mainly due to the fact that most of your ldl is large particle and cannot penetrate the artery well.

On the other hand people with small sense highly athergenic ldl that easily enters the walls of the artery are more prone to develop heart disease.

The guidelines regarding cholesterol are wrong and the blood tests that are done are not adequate enough to identify people at high risk of heart disease. It is the LDL sub fractions that should be tested to identify people who through genetics possess highly athergenic small particle ldl.

It is these people along with people who already have clinically significant heart disease that benifit from statins, not as you say, every one with high cholesterol.

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I'm fully aware of the inflammation issue, and of the particle issue. And yes, the guidelines AND the information are simplistic and wrong. The entire population is repeatedly given the mantra that "high cholesterol is bad" and "low cholesterol is good". But I, ShockedWithStent and you, have proven that hypothesis to be simplistic and wrong.

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Agreed, it is very complicated and alas there is no one size fits all or magic pill solution!

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Sorry, but this does not disprove the guidelines in any way.

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Well maybe you don’t want to hear this but I wish I had

Taken the statins in 2011 my level was 5.1 and I’m 2016 it was 5.7

I had a heart attack 9 weeks ago artery blocked 70 percent

I have done all the right things food no smoking limited drinking less than 4 glasses wine per week weight down

And yet it still happened and could have killed me

I am now on a long road to recovery but the damage has been done ❤️👍

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Join the club. My main artery was over 90% blocked and I did all the right things, no smoking & no drinking, eating the perfect diet but as I said some food maybe called super foods but its not good for us coz it is high in fat:)

Stick to exercise and drink lots of water. Good luck

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Always make my own dairy free re allergy the medics say it’s inherited

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"High in fat"? 🤔

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I went on holiday and had fresh organic yogurt made in the farm. Well, that raised my cholesterol quite a bit! So in my case I have to stick to 0% and I suggest you do the sane.

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Now i am more scared and confused than ever.

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Statins will not save your life or prevent future events, the whole LDL numbers game is just that , a game, and it's based on bad science. There are plenty of published papers proving statins do not work for prevention, they absolutely reduce your ldl, and that's it. Your ldl level is just an indicator of a much bigger problem, or not. Peoples high ldl numbers may in fact indicate you are in good health, if all your other lipid values are good. The real problem is inflammation caused by to much insulin, yet this fact is not addressed, likely 'cause there's no pill for that, it's all caused by what you eat. LDL is crucial to good health.

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I disagree. My mother decided to stop taking statins and blood pressure tablets, 3 weeks later she had a stroke. She managed to recover. After 3 years massive heart attack followed by heart failure. If you wanna gamble, be my guest but from personal experience I will not go against medical doctors who have spent years researching and saving lives. Good luck & take care of yourself. Best wishes

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I also resisted statins for many years against my drs advice , I lost a great deal of weight don’t smoke don’t drink and exercise regularly, I had a HA last year and was told I’d got coronary heart disease , had 3 stents fitted , now I take a cocktail of tablets every day , statins being one of them , I’ve been okay on them just a few muscle pains but not to bad ..

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There is a small but very vociferous cult of statin deniers on the internet who insist high ldl is not a problem etc etc - generally part of the low carb high fat cult too.

You have the choice of following this little group of conspiracy theorists or of taking the advice of the scientific and medical consensus, BHF, NHS, British Cardiovascular society, American heart association and basically every reputable medical body.

It's your choice , but think carefully before you gamble your life on the statin deniers. As you see quite a few people on this forum rejected statins and regretted it after their heart attacks / stents.

Science and medicine works by consensus and large-scale clinical trials.

My husband is high risk and has taken statins for 7 years without problems, as well as following a healthy Mediterranean diet, low in saturated fat and high in whole grains, fruit and vegetables, as advised by the BHF. This has kept his cholesterol low and caused no side-effects. I in contrast have lots of muscle pain although I am not on statins as I have always had excellent lipids - people are far too quick to blame statins!

There is very good advice on reducing your cholesterol on the BHF website, and I would always recommend checking anything you read here against their advice.

All the best with reducing your ldl.

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Having had a massive heart attack & cardiac arrest 21 years ago, my husband has been on statins for bout 15 YEARS. He's never had any problems with them. He eats a very healthy diet, everything in moderation including the odd beer or glass of wine. He's got a 100% blocked main artey, there is no way he would even consider not taking them.

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Thanks for you input, much appreciated.

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My point was not whether you should or shouldn't take statins, my point is inflammation is the root cause,

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All your posts on this forum have been anti statin and pro LDL, directly opposed to the medical consensus, the BHF and NHS, which emphasise the importance of lowering LDL levels and the benefits of statins in preventing heart attacks.

It seems strange to join a BHF forum in order to try to persuade other forum members not to follow BHF advice.

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Never said you shouldn't care about your ldl numbers. I am expressing another point of view on the causes of heart disease, that I believe is rarely talked about, that being inflammation. I am also a heart patient, and I am very concerned about my lipid numbers and reducing my risk of future events. To accuse me of denying science is unfair, you have no idea the research behind my thoughts on the causes of heart disease. But I get that you must trust the professionals and the standard of care they provide. I just choose to focus my energy on addressing insulin resistance as the most important and current scientific thinking on improving heart health. Why would I not share this on a forum about heart health

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Yes, I agree.

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I see an integrative medicine doc here in the US. He ran some fancy blood tests that showed I am one of the people whose body hangs on to cholesterol so no matter how healthy I eat, my levels dont change enough. His recommendation is lifetime statins as my blood vessels show athersclerosis. Quite suprising to me coming from a doc who prefers “ natural methods”. But he doesnt have a dog in the statin debate so I believe him. Ive been on atoravastatin a year almost, numbers good and no side effects. One unexpected occurrence is my CRP ( inflammation) level came down alot. Statins are anti- inflammatory, so they actually help me out in the a fib arena. Ive not had a fib in a year.

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I think you should read my post today which goes into exactly this subject. Sadly, I fear that you are not going to achieve the results you require without medicinal intervention. I have tried, and failed, and trust me, I have REALLY tried.

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Get a calcium scan. If you're score is 0 then don't take a statin. If it's 1 or more then you have heart disease and I would start taking statins for secondary prevention.

Be it obesity, lack of exercise, high bp etc,etc I believe the main cause of heart disease is inflammation that causes damage to the inner layer of the artery wall that then allows mainly small dense ldl paricles to penetrate the endothelial layer and begin to grow , a continual process that eventuality results in blockages.

Statins not only reduce cholestrol, they reduce the inflammation that I believe drives athersclerosis progression and as a member of the stent community I will continue to take mine.

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It's not easy to reduce LDL, there is an association of high LDL with heart disease. One can get a CT Calcium to get an idea of their risk.

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Have a look at the HUNT 2 research report.

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I now have a copy of my last 2 cholestoral tests:

Serum cholesterol level (XE2eD) - total 6.40 (up from 6.26 in July 2018)

serum HDL cholesterol level 1.44

serum cholesterol HDL ratio - 4.4

Triglyceride 1.44

LDL -4.31

serum non high density lipoprotein cholesterol - 4.96

TSH - 4.98

T4 - normal range

Seeing Doc again in 2 months - pending diet adjustment

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As I suggested a week ago, if you have a thyroid condition it's a good idea to do a post on the Thyroid UK forum as thyroid dysfunction (of any degree) can impact other things (e.g. the Cholesterol/Lipid levels). But the Thyroid UK forum would ask that you provide the lab results WITH the reference ranges next to each result... which you've not done with the new results above. And they would ask for lab results (with ref. ranges) of Vit D3, etc. It's important that the FT3 is tested along with the FT4 and TSH.

Good luck.

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Thanks - thats great advice and i will do further research and chat to the doctor in 2 months. Appreciate your response.

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