Elevated cholesterol but no signs of inflammation?

I have closely followed all the debates about statins, and sugar vs. saturated fat, and am a believer that the pharmaceutical industry has vastly overplayed the benefits of statins. I have been on statins for the past eight years, but decided to give myself a break from them, and came off them for seven months. I was disappointed to discover that my serum cholesterol level subsequently rose to its highest level yet: 8.4. The thing is, for the first time ever my blood tests also included a test for inflammation.

Given that some believe inflammation to now be the cause of elevated cholesterol, I was worried that this might also show an unwanted result, so was surprised that my serum C Reactive protein was at the low end of normal (2mg/l). My erythrocyte sedimentation rate – another indicator of inflammation – was also normal – just 2mm/hr (2-15 being ‘normal’). My HDL and serum triglycerides were ‘normal’, but serum cholesterol was 8.4 and LDL was 6.2. So: no apparent evidence of inflammation and yet elevated cholesterol.

Now, I would not be too concerned about this elevation in LDL/serum cholesterol except for the fact that I have recently been told that I am showing evidence of endothelial dysfunction, which the internet tells me is among the first signs of cardiovascular disease. This shocked me. On my GP and consultant’s advice, I have therefore put myself back on 20mg of statins – and am waiting to see how they bring down my levels.

I feel depressed to think that I might be showing early signs of cardiovascular disease. I am 44, not overweight, go to the gym at least three times a week, and jog 10km every weekend. My blood pressure is normal, I show no signs of diabetes, and I don’t drink or smoke. I’m aware that statins can affect nutrient levels, and so I take daily doses of co-enzyme Q10, cod liver oil, kyolic garlic, L-arginine and other supplements. I don’t really know what more I can do to keep heart disease at bay? Is it just down to genetics? What scares me most is that my maternal grandfather died at the age of 48 from a heart attack, and my dad had a heart bypass in his 60s. Is it possible to reverse endothelial dysfunction? Are there more tests that I should be pushing for, or anything else that I should be doing? Any advice or ideas welcome – thanks.

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28 Replies

  • Hello,

    Please go for a HbA1c blood test to look for blood glucose level.

    Certain statins - also known as cholesterol-lowering medications - could increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.

  • zoeharcombe.com/?wpdmact=pr...

    That link is a first taste of what this lady has studied. I would not take statins at all, they do far more harm than any good, cholesterol is life vital and you would die without it, I just can't see why anyone would want to stop its work. It's like having a large city with riots and mayhem going on in certain areas and the decision is to get rid of half of the police, medics and fire services in order to stop the streets getting clogged up.

    I would also look at a statination and the great cholesterol con. My belief is that is refined sugars and stress management that damage our arteries, not veins though which is strange as they are exactly the same structures, according to Dr Malcombe Kendrick, it is all down to the question of wether you believe your body is trying to kill you with cholesterol or wether it is trying to heal you with cholesterol.

  • I understand your anxiety, as unfortunately it is possible to lead a healthy lifestyle and yet develop health problems. This has also happened to me, as I am diabetic and recently had a mini stroke (age 58). despite following a healthy lifestyle for most of my life, and being a nurse, so knowing about disease prevention. Risk factors are used to indicate that if you don't smoke, eat healthily etc your risk of heart disease will be low. Sadly this does not mean that there is no risk to you as an individual, as research following on from the genome project does indicate that your genetic make up is also important. Your family history suggests cardiovascular disease does run in your family, The good news is that maintaining your healthy lifestyle means that you are still going to improve your health and will keep the development of any problems at bay for longer. I would recommend you keep going with the statins - lots of people are paranoid about these, but a review of credible randomised controlled research studies (not funded by pharmaceutical companies or poorly undertaken research - there are a lot of badly conducted studies out there so be careful and listen to your medical team who know how to evaluate studies and meta analysis) confirms these do reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease for most people. Your body does need some cholesterol, but the HDL/LDL ratio is crucial in preventing inflammation, and triglyceride levels are also an important factor . I take them myself and my total cholesterol has dropped from 9 to under 4 and improved both my ratio and triglyceride levels. Carry on with your current regime, don't focus on health worries too much on a day to day basis, and have regulat tests to identify other problems early. Keep an eye on your blood sugar, if it starts to rise ask your GP about metformin as new research shows this can help keep diabetes at bay not just treat it. Health anxieties can ruin your enjoyment of life so it is important just to enjoy every day, not just focus too much on the future.

  • The great lump of fat that fell off one of my arteries and kept blocking my arteries to the heart and stopping my heart beating that needed reviving with paddles came from somewhere. So if i am not adding to the levels of fat any more and Statins, Metformin and other pills and exercise and diet and 4 stents are helping then i am a happy man. Dont believe all you read on this site from some. Do as Currentbun and pete887271 suggest.

  • I'm sorry you had a heart attack, but it wasn't fat that blocked you arteries - it was atherosclerosis.

    The NHS (no less) says that the causes of atherosclerosis are unclear

    "Exactly how arteries become clogged is still unclear, though there are certain things that increase your risk of atherosclerosis. These include:


    •a high-fat diet

    •a lack of exercise

    •being overweight or obese

    •having either type 1 or type 2 diabetes

    •having high blood pressure (hypertension)

    •having high cholesterol "

    If you're a man who has had a heart attack, you probably will derive some benefit from statins, so it's up to you if you want to take them. What I and others are arguing about is perfectly healthy people with no heart disease being prescribed statins.

  • link for NHS info on atherosclerosis.


  • Yes I know this but I read your link anyway. The first sentence should be read again. ALL knowledge is good. I take it on board digest it and use it as a basis of my understanding. I would think that stains would have helped me before i had my HA. Also not smoking and more exercise and a lower fat diet and less weight and not having diabetes and high cholesterol. And high triglicerides but what is good my blood pressure was good. I think this is why stations are prescribed to those who have high cholesterol as a means of preventing what happened to me.

    The only advice I give to others is don't think it won't happen to you. That's what I thought so was on a bender enjoying a carefree life. And inside i was slowly dying. So a bit of prevention might have helped and I think there are thousands out there that need it also.

  • "I would think that stains would have helped me before i had my HA. Also not smoking and more exercise and a lower fat diet and less weight and not having diabetes and high cholesterol. "

    Out of that list, the biggest risk factors are smoking and diabetes. Smoking is indeed asking for a heart attack - having seen it happen in my own family, I'm a life long non smoker.

    Statins might have helped you, but they may have made no difference whatsoever. Exercise, weight loss, a low GI diet and not smoking would probably have helped more though.

  • And that's the problem. Did they or didn't they??? Who knows. Not me. Should I take the chance and come off them and the other drugs I take and leave my life to luck and diet and exercise. Not sure yet.

  • And that's the problem. Did they or didn't they??? Who knows. Not me. Should I take the chance and come off them and the other drugs I take and leave my life to luck and diet and exercise. Not sure yet.

  • And that's the problem. Did they or didn't they??? Who knows. Not me. Should I take the chance and come off them and the other drugs I take and leave my life to luck and diet and exercise. Not sure yet.

  • Non smoker, only occasional alcohol, eating lots of fruit and veg, moderate amounts chicken and fish, small amounts red meat and dairy, complex carbs and saturated fats no junk food, plenty of exercise/outdoor activities , manage stress and get 8 hours a night sleep. Diabetes and heart disease run in my family history and I have opted for moderation in most things. As i have a degree in applied social research methodologies I have always kept an eye on new trials etc, however biochemistry is complex and research can't actually provide definitive answers about what will work for individuals. My research results scepticism means that for every RCT or long term study advocating the evidence base for statins, I know there will be another equally valid trial somewhere which presents the opposite and recommending that high cholesterol is not a health risk or advocating low carb diets. In reality I think people are just wanting to find a lifestyle answer which will enable them to do their best to maintain their health by controlling their personal environment. However it's my belief science still doesn't have reliable answers yet, that will apply to everyone, hence the ever running disagreements on health blogs. For example everyone knows that smoking is a health risk, however my mum smoked 40 a day for 74 years, died in her sleep aged 89 and still didn't even have a cough. Nevertheless I haven't opted to smoke myself! I have a friend with type 2 diabetes who spent 2 years trying to persuade me of the benefits of a low carb diet and the evils of statins, who sadly has just had a massive heart attack requiring an immediate triple bypass for survival. I don 't regret my decision to take them, despite having occasional doubts. Everyone has to evaluate the evidence for themselves and decide what works for them. My plan is to keep to the path of moderation and watch my HbA1c profile.

  • Hello,

    Just as an interest, "Do you have your HbA1c numbers?"

    Statin can increase BG numbers!

    It used to be fasting blood glucose numbers and it is HbA1c for type 2, "When did you start HbA1C testing?

  • Started testing when I was diagnosed as type 2 (4 years ago.)At diagnosis it was 14.6. Took 3 months on metformin to reduce down to 6.9. Last reading 6months ago 6.2 usually between 6.0 and 6.5. (I ask my nurse to convert to old number system as it makes more sense to me!) Had one taken last week so not going back for results yet. Introduced statins after about a year on metformin, doesn't seem to have affected my BS readings. Since my TIA am also on Losartan for BP and aspirin.

  • Hi big leg, my friend was on the Atkins style low carb high fat, and isn't the only person I know who has still developed health problems on this regime. On the other hand my daughter in law (who doesn't have health problems) has found that low carb helped her loose weight and she loves it and is going to carry on. Personally, I won't be following this regime, not nutritionally balanced enough overall, and the evidence still isn't robust enough to persuade me it provides any real advantage.

  • I would stay off the internet, take your statins and just chill out. Your preoccupation with health seems a bit obsessive.

  • It may be that you are one of the unfortunate ones who have FH in your genetic code. With your family history it would probably be a good idea to let those on this forum who also have FH chat to you about their experiences, medical advice and personal accounts to help you make informed decisions about your health issues. All the best to you.

  • Why not try a very low carbohydrate diet. I started on the Bernstein diet two years ago to combat diabetes and by chance found that within the first six months it reduced my total cholesterol from 4.5 to 3.4, HDL went up from 0.93 to 1.1, LDL went down from 2.7 to 2.5 and triglycerides down from 2.0 to 0.7, and the numbers continue to improve as well as give me non-diabetic glycated haemoglobin levels and ideal BMI all without any medication. Suggested reading: Dr Bernstein's Diabetes Solution and Gary Taube's book Why We Get Fat, containing explanations for these phenomena. It would be useful to know your exact glycated haemoglobin level.

  • All i am going to say is that not all supplements are equal.Just because you are taking l-arginine does not mean that you are getting the best quality product on the market.One that has clinical trials behind it and is even recommended in the" physicians desk reference".Someone on this site said you were obsessive with your health and that you should take the statins and chill out.I actually respect the fact that you are so passionate about your health and have very little respect for people that have a roll over and die attitude to life.Wishing you good health in the future Westbury 18.

  • You probably have some genetic cause of raised cholesterol, a lot of people do, it's down to the number of LDL receptors you have, even if you haven't been diagnosed with FH.

    Who told you you had evidence of endothelial dysfunction and how was it diagnosed?

  • By the way, Wikipedia lists shift work as a possible cause of endothelial dysfunction. Have you had interrupted sleep or do you do shift work?

    Shift work is definitely linked to heart disease - my dad who had a heart attack was a shift worker.

    Try to get good quality sleep and lower stress levels. Eat oily fish rather than taking cod liver oil - the fish has high levels of taurine which is really good for your arteries.

  • Hello,

    I worked a shift pattern, 2 days, 2 nights, four on, four off.

    All I got was bad back, sitting 12 hours on horrible computer chairs.

    Sleeping no problems.

  • Look up Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn on the internet, both have done extensive studies of diet on heart disease. I have just started their 'reverse heart disease diet' with intention of avoiding bypass surgery which my cardiologist has recommended.

  • Hello – many thanks for all of you who have responded with helpful advice and points of view.

    Idontbelieveit asked who told me that I had evidence of endothelial dysfunction and how was it diagnosed. Two years ago, at age 42, I began experiencing symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED). As you may imagine, ED can be distressing – potentially affecting self-esteem, relationship with partner, etc. It’s not something that most men find easy to talk about, and seems something of a taboo subject – so I hope people don’t mind me mentioning this. Anyway, I saw my GP about it, and was referred to a consultant urologist for further investigations (blood sugar, testosterone levels, etc). Having done several tests, it was my consultant urologist who made a diagnosis of endothelial dysfunction, and he told me to go back on statins.

    (Before anyone else jumps in and tells me, I am well aware that erectile dysfunction is listed as a side effect of statins – which is why I decided to take a break from statins for seven months to see if it had any affect. Unfortunately, it did not make any difference, and my consultant was quite adamant that statins were unlikely to be the cause).

    I don’t think his diagnosis of ‘endothelial dysfunction’ was down to any particular blood test; I got the feeling he reached that conclusion after ruling out other causes of ED.

    Anyway, this is why I feel confused and unsure what to do. I love my life, enjoy leading an active lifestyle, and – as I imagine we all do – want to maintain as good a quality of life for as many years as possible. If it is my fate to have cardiovascular disease because of my genes, I will just have to deal with it – but until then, I will keep an open mind to all theories and treatment options – dietary or pharmaceutical.

    As Currentbun has suggested, I too believe that there is – unfortunately – no ‘one size fits all’ approach to cardiovascular health – and a lot depends on your genetic make-up. I am simply trying to find the diet/lifestyle/medication that works best for me. Thanks again for your suggestions – there were a couple of ideas (magnesium deficiency) that I hadn’t heard about and will investigate further.

  • I don't think we will ever find the answers because we are all different and what is good for one is not necessarily good for another. We have to do what we feel is right at the time and be prepared to change direction if necessary. Open mind and be willing to accept all arguements is the way.

  • Thanks - that made me laugh (well - the bit about handstands!) - good to know that you've seen such dramatic results, but sorry to read about your strokes and other ill health over the years. I have to say, the thought of going vegan, or even vegetarian, fills me with horror as I've been a meat-eater all my life, but as I say, am keeping an open mind to all advice for the future. Am prepared to give anything a go.

  • Hi Westbury

    There are various science papers on the web about endothelial dysfunction, some easier to read than others! I found this one from 2002, talking about the effects of vitamins C and E on mitigating the effects of a high fat meal on patients with CVD.


    I don't know if this will be of any use/interest. Perhaps you need to cut your fat, perhaps you need to eat a lot of vegetables? Hope you can find a solution.

  • all I will say westbury is goggle strauss heart drops I have been on it 4 years no statins stopped them did not need them and I am 76

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