Please can someone tell me whether my ... - Cholesterol Support

Cholesterol Support

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Please can someone tell me whether my cholesterol numbers are borderline or not. I had a fasting cholesterol test before Xmas.

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. Total cholesterol 5.9, triglycerides 0.9, HDL 2.2, LDL 3.3, ratio 2.7.

Would the subsequent summons for the NHS Health Check have been as a direct result of the test do you think? The nurse who did the health check told me that one of the drs said the total cholesterol was too high but another said the HDL numbers made up for this. Unfortunately the check revealed stage 2 high blood pressure which frankly I'd rather not have known about. I'm 70yrs and female and fit and well, non smoker and not overweight. I'm feeling very cross that I have been part of a box ticking culture. I have a gut feeling that the dr who said my total was too high sent me the summons for the health check having been thwarted for not getting me on meds [statins?] for the cholesterol. I have a distinct feeling that anyone caught in the net of the health checks is money for the practice. Tell me please if I'm right or wrong. I wish I'd ignored the whole thing and just not known.

Also when give the stage 2 blood pressure I resolved to improve things myself, specifically cutting out salt.6 weeks later things were worse, not better and am now on Ramipril 2.5 and the numbers are looking better. Does anyone know how long it takes for cutting out salt in the diet to have the desired effect?

33 Replies

Slightly high, but not unusually so for your age, as far as a mere patient like me understands it.

The health checks work in general, else they wouldn't be funded. That's doesn't mean they give the right result every time.

hi gardengnome42

I am not sure about salt but whatever you do do not take a statin ,i am a 48 year old female and never had health problems till started taling statins ,but now intermittent fasting is keeping my levels down mine are 6.2 cholesterol from 12.1 ,i would not worry about your cholesterol ,but if it does ever rise try eating for no more than 8 hours a day and take a fish oil ,if you have bone trouble try ubiquinol

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Hidden in reply to suki65

having read several of your posts and the problems you have I would never willingly take a statin, I had just wanted to know how my numbers compared to other peoples

You might find this article about salt interesting nytimes.com/2012/06/03/opin...

The problem with reducing salt is that it reduces hydration, and by lowering the water in the body we reduce the ability of the immune system to work well, and the blood becomes thicker, so be careful not to reduce to much.

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Hidden in reply to frankcooper

Thank you, it was most interesting. It says what my husband says really although I've always thought he eats far too much salt. says he likes the crunch with his food;) For my part I do feel over the years I have eaten too much. I have started making an effort to remember to drink water during the day too

For a female of 70 absolutely fine as long as you keep it this way.

: thecholesteroltruth.com/res...

My cholesterol readings were the same as yours a couple of years ago and my GP was content to leave me without statins because of the high HDL level. My total cholesterol has now gone up to 7.2 and I have tried three different statins with very bad side effects. Try to avoid having to take statins unless you want to take a chance with side effects. Strangely the GP seems to be happy for me to stop taking statins now!

It may be a good idea to buy a good quality blood pressure monitor with arm cuff (not wrist band) and take your own readings twice a day over the course of a week to take to your GP. I have an Omron monitor which gives very accurate readings and they are always 20 points lower than GPs, due to 'white coat syndrome' when I have BP checked at the practice. The GPs seem very happy to accept home readings in this manner. There is a strong family history behind my high BP and limiting salt, changing diet, increasing exercise have had no discernible impact. Only medication has worked. Ten years on (initial readings were 123/116), I now have three different daily BP meds, but it is well under control ( present readings around 116/68) with no concerning side effects.

florence5
florence5 in reply to florence5

Sorry, typo error. Initial readings were 223/116

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Hidden in reply to florence5

Yikes! 223/116 - that is high, so glad you lowered it. I've bought an Omron monitor too and took some of the readings at the last doctors appt. She was very pleased I'd done so and I did it principally because my son in law said I'd need to get one and also I never want one of those 24 hour things again, parping off every half hour making other folk think I had a 'little problem'! Doctor said to take 2 or 3 readings at a time, randomly during the day,recording just the lowest number, not doing an average as the machine tells you. Doing it this way I find the first reading is often 20 or even more points higher than the lowest one, which is usually the last one taken. Suits me! She says that for a home monitor the reading should be below 135/85 and I appear to have got below this already, though not down to 116. hope it stays there.

Hello gardengnome42, and welcome again. I would take a cup of tea out into your garden and sit and enjoy your labours. You have absolutely no reason to worry. For someone of your, now how can I put this diplomatically, generation (how's that!) your C levels are OK. I am 10 yrs younger than you with figures not dissimilar. I too have a higher than average HDL level, and by dividing my HDL level into my total C level I am 3.3- below the 4 that is recommended. You should just concentrate on your BP levels and watch the side effects of your medication for that. My husband soldiered on with horrendous side effects of his BP medication and made himself anaemic. Now, after stopping his medication and getting his anaemia right and back onto a lower dose of BP medication all now is well. He takes NO statins although he has got a prescription for them. After his experience he is very loathe to take them because of his past history.

I sometimes think that GPs get carried away with the idea that they can cure the world with a single pill! We are not all the same and not all of us need the medication we are prescribed unless there is a serious problem such as heart failure, stroke, diabetes, or cancer.

Diet does play a part but by eating well and healthily. Watch the processed food, (the hidden salt and sugars in those are a nightmare!) and sugar, itself, is the worst!! Make as much of your own baking and breads if you can and organically if possible. Source food locally, and if not at least from the UK.

All the best to you.

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Hidden in reply to patch14

Are you saying that your husband has come off bp meds? - no maybe I misunderstood you. I'd like to think they aren't for life but have a feeling that they are, not sure though.

I do eat well and healthily and don't do processed foods or fizzy drinks, eat lots of fruit and veg. I'm on an Ace inhibitor although was initially told that because of my great age [!!] a calcium channel blocker would be more suitable. I'd vetoed that as I'm a grapefruit fan. It's only a low dose and seems to be working, may it continue, but even so I do get a dry cough periodically.

I realise now, from various links from this site, that sugar is public enemy no 1; I had always thought it just made you fat, but it seems it is responsible for causing inflammation in the arteries, not cholesterol.

My son in law who is 49, lost his brother age 44 recently, and as he himself is already on blood pressure meds asked his doctor for statins. He says he doesn't have side effects but he always looks in pain to me! I feel he probably wouldn't admit to it anyway. Imagine putting yourself on a statin, he didn't even know what his cholesterol numbers were either! As you rightly say we are all different ;-)

Hi Gardengnome,

I'm not sure if these health checks are so much a "conspiracy" (my words!) more an attempt to treat the masses as one, in order to bring down the rates of heart disease etc in the population and help GP's reach their targets. In the midst of this individuals and their health wishes don't take priority.

Screening is always sold as a "good thing", I have just been reading about breast screening for example and a new study says for every woman who has cancer detected, there are 3 who have surgery that might not have been necessary. When you think surgery probably means a mastectomy, that is not a minor thing. Cancer rates are falling most in women who are too young to be screened.

I've gone off your point! I just think we should be given more information before we go for any sort of screening....perhaps before a cholesterol test we should be told, if this is high you will be told you need to take medication for the rest of your life. Then again how many people would go if they were told this. Glad ramipril is going well, you are on a titchy witchy dose, hardly anything.

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Hidden in reply to Aliwally

I agree we should be told the consequences of any screening. It's this nanny state thing that I really object to, treating all of us as though we were ignorant children. And the patronising part of it makes my bp rise !! The Ramipril dose was raised 3 weeks ago to 2.5 and I do seem to have developed a dry cough which only comes during the night. Annoying but not exactly life threatening! However the bp seems to have dropped to 126/75. The doc told me to take 3 readings each time and only record the lowest. Seems like cheating a bit but I'm not complaining. Just hope I'm doing it right.

Hi garden gnome

I am just a few years behind you in age and have the same total cholesterol level,( I don't know the breakdown) and my GP told me this was lower than average. My BP has always been lower than average and although I put salt on my food it has never gone up. From what I've read, the idea that salt raises your BP is only a possible effect, not a definite one... but over the years this has become accepted as gospel, along with the idea that eating fat is bad for your heart and will make you put on weight.

Several years ago I had to stop eating anything with gluten in, so no bread, cakes etc. There were no gluten free substitutes around so my diet changed drastically in a short time. I lost a lot of weight and was advised (not by my GP, who hadn't got a clue) to go back to full fat food. I have for years eaten a protein breakfast, such as bacon and eggs, cooked in lard. I would have liked to have told my GP this, when he gave me my cholesterol results, but I lost my nerve. I have a good BMI and waist measurement, as well.

Perhaps my results are just down to my genes, I don't know. I have ended up eating a low carb diet out of necessity and it has worked very well for me.

I suspect, like you, that the doctors get a premium for anyone coming in for these health check ups.

If you can do everything you want to do with your life, does it matter too much what your levels are?

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Hidden in reply to Penel

I don't know whether the levels matters too much or not: I just don't want statins. Not that I've been pressured yet but I do know one of the senior doctors in the practice seems to do everything by the book which is why I wasn't sure what is borderline . I've only ever spoken to that particular one on the phone and when the 24 hr bp monitor registered me at over 160/90 his glee in saying "You will certainly need medication for this" was tangible! More money for the practice ??? My own doctor is much kinder. The article on salt is most interesting, I had only tried it for a month before going on a low dose of Ramipril but now after 6 weeks the bp has dropped to acceptable levels according to my own monitor, so perhaps I should have tried it a little longer before going on meds. Who knows! My own doctor did say however that when the Qrisk calculator registers 20% you more or less have to go on statins, and that seems to give a different reading each time I do it, can't think why, although not yet at that level.

Penel
Penel in reply to Hidden

Because cholesterol levels go up naturally after the menopause it means that 5.9 is ok, I think. I definitely agree with you on not taking statins!

Surely the doctors should be offering you advice on ways to lower BP naturally before they prescribed drugs? It does make you wonder about motives. I have been looking again on PubMed for any research on lowering BP and found reference to increasing some nutrients but you probably already eat a lot of veg!

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/

I had a look at the Qrisk calculator and found that there are a new and old version on the web. Guaranteed to cause confusion.

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Hidden in reply to Penel

Thanks for the reply. What he said on the phone was "Lifestyle changes won't make enough difference, if you don't smoke [etc] it must be a hereditary factor or your age: you are definitely going to need medication". Thanks!

Re. the salt thing: I used to eat far too much I'm sure, just habit of course but since Easter have stopped adding it to the plate and using very much less when I cook. Also have started consciously drinking more water as I'm sure I didn't drink enough before. I'm not sure if that will make any difference or not. Am awaiting another visit to my own doctor in 2 weeks.

Penel
Penel in reply to Hidden

This is the link I meant to put ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/186...

It talks about ensuring you have good levels of potassium, magnesium and calcium in your diet. Supplements don't manage to do the same job well enough.

I just love that phrase..." At your age..." I have to grit my teeth and smile.

I hope all your efforts will make a difference.

Well good luck with the salt reduction because it's yet another hypothesis.

One part carbohydrate retains three parts water in the body, and this can increase bp also. However, since the Eatwell Plate is a high carbohydrate diet, it's not an effect that is widely acknowledged; how can it be healthy eating if it contributes to high bp?

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Hidden in reply to Concerned

I am not impressed with the 'eatwell plate'. All that pasta and bread can't be right and such a low percentage of protein. It goes against all I've learnt about nutrition over a life time.

Penel
Penel in reply to Hidden

i agree with you gardengnome. The whole thing has got very unbalanced and It's almost impossible to keep a healthy weight eating all those carbohydrates, unless you happen to an Olympic athelete!

Having had a look at the research results on PubMed, it would seem that reducing your salt intake can reduce your BP, but probably only if you had been eating a lot to start with.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/236...

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Hidden in reply to Penel

Yes I did eat a lot - habit really. The husband likes the 'crunch' factor with his food and has no problem with his BP. Not fair!

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I should have written this before but thank you all of you for your really helpful replies. 3 weeks ago the doc raised my Ramipril to 2.5 and it would appear from the home monitor that it is working. I need to go for a check in a week together with the numbers I have taken. Just as well I can do it myself as it always shoots out of the roof in the surgery. I say the Ramipril is working but I'm thinking is it the reduction in salt that is the key I wonder. Also I've got my weight right down to well within limits.I'd be curious to know if the cholesterol numbers have dropped since last December too given the improvement in diet. There's nothing like a health scare to give you a wake up call

Glad all is going well. Do keep an eye on "that annoying cough" though, and go to your GP if it gets any worse than annoying. There are plenty of other good drugs to lower BP.

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Hidden in reply to Aliwally

Thanks Aliwally, I will keep that cough hopefully under control. it does tend to wake me up at night which is annoying.

Hope it keeps on going well. Personally I thought your cholesterol numbers weren't bad, so it will be interesting to see if they have changed.

My husband had a health scare recently and has changed his eating habits at last, I'm afraid it was much more effective than me nagging at him.

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Hidden in reply to Penel

So do I ask for another test and would they give me one, or do I want to know ;-)

Penel
Penel in reply to Hidden

That's a really difficult one to answer! I would guess they will do another blood test to check everything at some point, anyway. If you have lost weight and changed the way you eat, then it might be good to know if it's had an impact. But on the other hand...damn them and their tests.

One of the factors that my husband has found over the years and which he feels has helped him keep his medication to a minimum is the daily taking of honey. Local honey which he thinks has helped him get rid of an annoying over 30 year dry cough, headaches, and restless legs. He sleeps better and although he is on medication for his BP it is a very low dose and when occasionally he gets leg cramps ( a side effect of his BP medication he knows) he takes quinine and drinks tonic water. He feels better than he has in years. He has a prescription for statins but won' t take them!

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Hidden in reply to patch14

Thanks for your reply. re. statins I have a fear of being put on them for whatever reason the doc dreams up like your husband. I was told at my last appointment with the dr that it's standard NHS procedure to put anyone on statins once their Qrisk reaches 20% and although I'm not there yet the odds are increasing the older I get. it's bad enough getting older without having statins. I think I'd do the same as your husband has done if I was in that situation.

It is not up to the Dr to make you take the pills it is up to you to swallow them! It is a choice that you can make despite the Drs insistence. I would certainly take as much information on board as you can and read as much as possible. The bone of contention over this issue is vast and the tos and fros for the taking of statins is a forever swinging pendulum. Only you can make the decision. My husband is well, feels well, and can't see that he should pump himself full of drugs unless it is absolutely necessary. He is 65, still working full time and is doing many things that a man half his age would probably baulk at (like the Maldon Mud Race!), fell walking, climbing, and only recently came back from walking the Yorkshire Dales! He walks daily, eats well, and has the occasional alcoholic beverage! Life is for living not just existing - so live well!

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