High cholesterol (8.2) What's the best action and how quickly can I expect to reduce it?

I'm male 52, living in France. Just been diagnosed with a cholesterol count of 8.18 ( trig 2.26, HDL 1.60, LDL 5.56).... Hardly surprising, I live in the mountains famed for their cheese and wine production.....

Whilst I speak reasonable day to day French I find it difficult to really understand and discuss my problem with my French doctor. I have a print out of foods I am encouraged to eat, and foods I should try to reduce, and I am advised to reduce my alcohol intake to half a bottle of wine a day... Very generous, I thought!

So I thought this site may clarify some thoughts...

Just how serious are my readings

Should I consider medication to reduce my cholesterol

How quickly can I expect to reduce my cholesterol (my next test is march)

Do these cholesterol reducing spreads and drinks actually work

Pomegranate and garlic, can they really help

Is there anything else that I should do? ( I'm quite good at obsessive behaviour!)

I'm quite active by the way, walking my dog an hour a day and skiing 4-5 times a week in the winter.

Thanks for any opinions and responses, be as blunt as you like, I prefer it

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9 Replies

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  • Google LCHF, then look up the French Paradox. That's a start which will take you on a journey.

    Don't worry about butter, cheese, fatty meats. Embrace saturated fat and reduce carbohydrate to a minimum - cut out all sugar. This will get your HDL/trigs into line and your LDL will be large buoyant (and harmless). Dump the cholesterol lowering spreads, along with your fears.

    What we've been told from the vested interests (pharma and agriculture) all these years is a load of old pony!

    Have a look at these two videos, do lots of research then make up your mind which path you'd like to go down:

    Enjoy your life, you're in the right place to do it!

  • Coincidentally:

    drbriffa.com/2013/11/01/my-...

    Lots more like this. Let me know if you'd like more.

  • Very interesting to have a French perspective on this. If this was the UK, this is what would happen as I've been through it. Most GP's would reach for the prescription pad and prescribe you a statin. They may throw in that this could be a genetic problem, it could be FH or it could be another inherited high cholesterol condition. If your GP has a particular interest you could be referred to a lipid clinic or you might not. Again a lipid clinic would want to reduce your cholesterol levels by using a statin because they would say you are at high risk of a cardiac "event".

    I have read extensively about the "French Paradox", the French have a much higher number of conventional risk factors but a lower rate of heart disease. Personally, I have found that Benecol products have had absolutely no effect and they often contain a lot of sugar, although other people on this site have used them with success.

    The half bottle of wine sounds very generous to UK ears, Vive la France!

    Did you feel pressurised to start a statin? Would be interested to hear if you did.

  • Two varying opinions above. So here's a third. Now you take's your choice. We all have different bodies; we all have different problems- so we probably all have different solutions. Basically - it's your life and your choice. Red wine helps to reduce cholesterol levels, as does garlic so, living in France, these two should be good for you. saturated fats were believed to raise total cholesterol so cheese could be a problem for you. To answer your questions :

    1. Serious enough for you to take stock and consider. Carry on as you are and risk shortening your life? Make changes that reduce your enjoyment of life but prolong your lifespan? Your choice.

    2. Try dietary changes first then, if that fails, see what your doctor prescribes.

    3. I usually experiment with a new regime for 12 months but try something until March and see what happens.

    4. Plant stenols and sterols have been proven to work. Your body - your choice. try them and see.

    5. Garlic has worked for me. Flavinoids are proven to reduce cholesterol levels (the red in many fruits - including red wine).

    6. Don't worry - it's bad for you. Check out the HEART UK website.

    Let the forum know how you get on. The more people that post, the more information we have to help other enquirers.

  • It would be interesting to know what foods you have been recommended to eat/avoid! Increasing soluble fibre can have a small effect on lowering cholesterol, but modern research suggests that you need to reduce refined carbohydrates and sugar to lower cholesterol, and if it's a genetic condition this may not be enough. I would expect you are probably already eating enough garlic!

    scientificamerican.com/arti...

  • Thanks for the responses

    Mike P - you are right, this is the beginning of a journey - and Im actually quite pleased about that - whilst I lead an active life, the alcohol and poor diet that I have maintained most of my life needs to change and this I hope is the journey to change that. I enjoyed the videos and want to believe them - I will carry on researching.

    Ali - Drugs have not even been discussed - the first I heard of a "statin" was when I started internetting! I generally dilike taking any medication and am very serious about finding a non medical solution to this

    Wyvon - I have bought the garlic tablets - im also trying to find pomegranate juice - quite difficult this far up a mountain!

    Penel, the dietary advice my doctor printed says-

    Try to increase vegetable oils and olive oils, oily fish, low fat meats, potatoes, cereals and pulses and high fibre bread, rice and pasta, fruit - 5 a day

    Try to reduce

    Butter, cream, dairy, beef, pork lamb - foie gras! Egg yolks, CHEESE and preprepared foods, pastries, cakes and sauces.

    But I like the way it says try to at the beginning!

    So heres where I am at at the moment - I am becoming convinced by the sugar not fat argument - but it wouldnt hurt to reduce both - so this is my plan for now.....

    1. reduce my alcohol consumption by a huge amount - I can drink 10 bottles of wine a week - sometimes more and a good dozen pints of beer as well - It doesnt matter if its sugar or fats that kill you - that much alcohol does!

    2. Lose weight - Im 106kg, 6'3" tall and well built - dropping 10kgs certainly wont make me gaunt!

    3 Diet - its time to adopt some fundamentals - increasing the fruit, veg and fibre

    4 I gave up smoking last month - not a very heavy smoker - and I give up and start 3-4 times a year - Its time to stay stopped

    So as a jump start I am cutting out alcohol this month - I was trying weekends only but that seemed to reinforce its elevated status in my life. - By xmas I reckon I will be under 100kgs and a lot healthier high cholesterol or not

    Thanks again for taking the time to respond - please feel free to add any advice or links you think I might find helpful

  • Interesting to read all this and to watch the cholesterol videos. As I understand it the French and the British have more or less the same population and the same overall risks yet heart disease is lower in France. Is it the way the French always sit down to a meal en famille and don't eat as much junk food 'on the hoof' so to speak, I wonder. However my elder daughter lives in France and my 2 French grandsons eat plenty of junk, just like their British cousins!

  • I read somewhere that the reason the French have a lower rate of heart disease to us British is stress, the French are much more laid back and lead stress free lives, I think sitting down eating as a family is a good example of this, also there whole out look on life is so chilled.

  • Hello,

    Cholesterol by UK numbers:

    Total Cholesterol under 5

    Triglyceride under 1.7

    HDL over 1

    LDL under 3

    TC/HDL ratio 4.5 or lower

    You can compare your results to UK numbers.

    Life style change can help to reduce cholesterol numbers but it takes time.

    Other health parameters? Blood pressure?, blood sugar? General health?

    One needs to look all health parameters.

    What is a total cholesterol number in France? Do you have any previous test results?

    As you cholesterol count is 8.18, "Do you have and difficulty with day to day activities?"

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