Did all the 'right' things and cholesterol got MUCH worse?!

Last July my total cholesterol was 5.2, LDL 3.9, HDL 1.6, Trigs 0.22. I had been taking Liptor 10mg every other day, but even that small amount was causing unacceptable side-effects (yes, I tried other kinds too), so I stopped. I lost 50lbs, started exercising moderately/intensively for a minimum of 150 minutes a week and up to 300 minutes, begam a supplement regime (plant sterols, flaxseed oil and others that supposedly lower cholesterol), ate plenty of foods that help lower cholesterol (oats, apples, nuts, legumes, salmon etc) and kept my diet clean most of the time (I have tried LCHF and it made me really ill). Result 9 months later? My total cholesterol went up to 8.2, LDL 5.9, HDL 1.8 & Trigs 1.

To my knowledge there is no FH in my family, so I am at a loss to explain why this happened, but it was pretty devastating after working so hard!

My doctor wanted me back on statins, I refused, I will not go through that hell again. I have changed my supplements - adding in new ones, getting rid of others and also have slowly started on full-flushing niacin (I tried starting out on 100mg 2 x daily but all but burst into flames - I'm not sure I'll ever make it up to 1.5g daily!). I plan to be tested again end of the year/early next year to see if it's better.

Anyone had a similar reaction to 'improving' their lifestyle?!

43 Replies

  • Oh, and I don't diabetes, my blood sugars have always been fine. Even at the above levels my ratios are good/ideal (which I know is important), but my doc is freaking out about the total & LDL numbers!

  • Hi, my husband has hFH and this is what happened when he came off statins. He also complains about side effects, and I can see it makes him more irritable, and hungrier...

    It's a pain that statins are the default option... did you do any aortic ultrasound?

  • Thing is, I was barely on them, 10mg (the lowest you can have) every other day is a very, very small amount and would only have had a very slight effect on numbers! As I say, there is no history of FH in my family, grandparents lived to at least 75 (male) - females into their 90s. Parents alive & kicking and well @ 70 & 74.

    I have a 40% build up of plaque in one of my arteries, nothing that the cardiologist wants to do anything about (apart from stuffing me full of a debilitating drug). My resting heart rate is 62, BP averages 104/62 - nothing wrong there, both are actually the low end of 'normal'!

  • What do you eat at the moment Queeniescakes, please? How active are you these days?

  • I do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate/intense exercise per week, including strength training, I would say I average 45 minutes 6 days a week.

    I follow a clean eating plan 90% of the time - unprocessed foods, fruit, veg, lean meats, nuts, wholegrains etc. I allow myself the odd treat as I fancy (the missing 10%!), as I believe life is for living and I am a recovering bulimic and banning ANY food just sets me up for binges.

  • How does that differ from the LCHF diet, and what were the ill-effects please? What are your treats?

  • It's more about eating foods as close to their natural state as possible, minimal processing - it doesn't ban any food group. Nothing unnaturally 'low-fat' or what have you. I had terrible digestive distress from LCHF - real roll around on the floor pain. It's not the magic bullet for everybody. I have whatever I fancy when I have a treat, chocolate (on the darker side), or whatever really. As I say, 'banning' any food is not good for me due to my psychological issues with food.

  • I'm sorry for all the questions in trying to get a clearer picture.

    My first observation is that lean protein is the fastest way of depleting our liver of vitamin A - we need the fat that accompanies it in nature, and that would explain why you turn to chocolate for instance.

    Are you allowing sufficient recovery time between your exercise sessions?

  • I don't like fatty meat though, lamb etc makes me want to vomit! I even struggle with salmon as I can feel the oiliness and I don't like it.

    I'm probably really bad at allowing recovery times. I normally only take 1 rest day a week - and I should probably take 2. If I don't exercise, I feel guilty, so it's something I struggle with! I am probably over-taxing myself, causing inflammation, hence the raised cholesterol as I know the body sends out more to fix problems. I am trying to find a balance in all things, but find it hard!

    I am also pretty unhappy with my life situation in general, and I know that stress can have a bad effect in cholesterol levels - again, that's not something so easily fixed, sigh!

  • You could do your weights one day, cardio the next, rest the next.

    No wonder you were ill with LCHF if you don't eat fat. Do you get on with avocado, double cream, cheese, coconut, crackling, or butter? Getting most of your energy (though not volume of food) from these keeps your insulin/IGF-1 low, and hence reduces inflammation.

  • Oh I do eat fat. I can (and do) eat full-fat dairy, coconut oil, nuts, etc. I just don't enjoy fatty meats (I was a vegetarian for about 10 years). I add coconut oil/nut butter to my smoothies etc. I always try to eat protein/fats/ (unrefined) carbs at every meal.

  • Is that home-made nut butter?

  • No, but pure butters, made from nuts and nut oil only (no sugar, some have a little salt).

  • Not peanuts, which have lectins. Cold-pressed oils, and only small amounts of PUFAs

  • Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, I like them all!

  • Good luck Queeniescakes!

  • Thanks, I'm a work in progress. My doctor says it's not now she's worried about. but the future. I'm sure by that time there will be law suits against statins and they'll have decided 150 other things are responsible for heart disease rather than cholesterol!

  • Not all statins are equal potency. 10mg Atorvastatin is about eight times the lowest (5mg) dose of the weakest statin (Pravastatin I think). It seems that doctors currently like Atorvastatin because it's the strongest patent-expired one so gives them the most bangs per buck - sceptics think it helps that it's fairly new so there aren't as many negative reports as against the earlier ones.

  • In the hospital they had me on 80mg Lipitor, I have never felt so ill in my life. They wanted me to take 20mg at home, I said no, I'll start with 10mg. Still horrendous side effects even at that level.

  • You cholesterol medication: "Is it to lower cholesterol as primary medication?" or " As a secondary medication after a heart procedure?"

    In the documentation I have read it states, Statin as secondary medication after any heart procedure is necessary with blood flow.

  • My journey started to reduce both cholesterol and blood glucose 4 years ago, was on statin for three months, did bring the cholesterol down but due to side effect gave up on statin. Have blood test every sis months, my numbers are high have an appointment with GP to discuss the numbers.

    My understanding is 2/3 cholesterol comes from the body and 1/3 from food I eat.

    My question to my GP is with my food intake control and regular exercise the cholesterol is not coming down, what is the next step other than statin?

    I went for number of screening privately, am told all ok!!!

    Just to make sure on the numbers you can go to a local chemist to do cholesterol test, this may cost you.

  • I did that Bala! I was so upset that my cholesterol levels were that high after working so hard, that I had a chemist test done just 2 weeks after this result and my total cholesterol was somewhere between 5.2-5.9 level. Therefore, I believe it was some temporary inflammation causing such a high blood test result (I had just started doing HIIT).

    For my cholesterol numbers to better when I was an obese couch potato, eating whatever I liked, defied all logic!!!

  • Really its clear you have tried everything. My only recommendation is to cut out all the supplements (trendy pharma companies dressed up as helping but just ripping us off) and just see what happens with food alone. Leave your exercise it is fine. If you cant get on with Statins that's fine dont take them. And dont overthink it. Its easy to do that especially following forums like this. Just eat good stuff and exercise, see what that brings. This will give you a base to start tinkering a little. Let us know when you have your next test and lets see what happen.

  • I know exactly how you feel although i do have FH. I've suffered terribly with side effects of Statins but one particular year I stuck rigidly to daily meds, putting up with the effects, only to see my levels rise at the end of the year.....gutted. I've recently been on the new drugs trial and although side effects were less, again my levels have risen (latest TC of 11.76, HDL 1.37, LDL 9.92).........PANIC TIME!!

  • keep up with niacin it does work its the only supplement to sort out your lpa levels no statin meds can do that the flush gets less the more you use it its helped me and my family google Dr abram hoffer it will open your eyes or read his book niacin the real story statins ruined my life it makes me very sad how some people on here think there fine on statins because they dont get any side effects now but in the long term they will in time good luck god bless

  • I am doing similar things to you re diet, not able to do as much exercise because of a neuro-muscular autoimmune disease, can't take statins because of that and just seen my levels, always high, just continue slow climb upwards. Currently 7.2 with a ration of 4:1.

    If I find a solution I'll let you know in the meantime I am taking a very good quality Tumeric as an anti inflammatory, good quality fish/krill/omega3 oil in capsule form and Vit C, eat other anti inflammatory foods such as garlic and ginger and always have a slice of lemon in my drinking water.

    I'm also a believer in our psychological/emotional wellbeing playing an important part so I am doing quite a lot of inner work as well.

    I just discovered colouring books for adults, great form of relaxation, with absolutely no purpose, if you like arty stuff and find it hard to relax.

    If you are interested - William Bloom's book The Endorphin Effect - explains how we can complicate emotional and psychological well being, when really it can be simple, effective and enjoyable. Just do things because they make you laugh or smile, not because it is 'good' for you.

    If none of that brings down the numbers, I am just going enjoy the life I have because there is nothing like smiling, laughing and enjoyment for bringing on the endorphins which counteract the stress hormones.

    Best wishes CD

  • Thanks CD! I am also on tumeric, Vit C & fish oils now, as well as slowly introducing niacin. We'll see how it goes, I'll do another chemist test in a few months and see what that's like.

  • hi i was exactly like you did everything i was told, everything low fat, grilled all foods lots of pasta, jacket potatoes, and my cholesterol was 8.3 in the end i told the nurse i was going to full fat diet natural cheese, butter,full fat yoghurts, she asked me why and i told her all low fats are full of sugar she said if it worked it would surprise her i had my bloods done later and they came back normal no action required listen to your body and no one else just try going back to all natural and see what happens.

  • Who told you to eat high-sugar foods? And wouldn't low-sugar/low-fat dairy be better? Subject to getting energy from other fats like olive oil, of course.

  • i dont eat high sugar foods i said anything low fat is full of sugar, so i went back to natural cheese ,butter,yoghurts,also cut down the carbs such as jacket potatoes and pasta

  • Low fat doesn't necessarily mean high sugar - or do you think things like oatbran, lean meat and vegetables like broccoli and so on are full of sugar???

  • i dont remember mentioning oatbran lean meat or any type of vegetable if you dont like what you read dont do it

  • Those are low-fat foods which are not full of sugar.

  • Hello,

    Please take a look at this article on this link:


  • A fail-filled article attempting to debunk a fairly fail-filled item from the Daily Fail's letters page. How exactly does reading that help?

  • Popular Types of Broccoli

    Net Carbs(g) 1 cup chopped 3.64


    Fiber (g) 2.4

    Total Carbs(g) 6.04

    Information is there if we want it!

  • Hello Queeniescakes

    There are other medications, apart from statins, which lower cholesterol, such as Ezetrol. There will also be others. Have you asked your doctor about alternatives? They will not all be suitable for your type of hypercholesterolaemia, but it is worth enquiring. I personally found that a Benecol drink taken daily along with my medication, brought my cholesterol down & it tastes nice too.

  • You say you had unacceptable side affects, I have been on atorvastatin for many years and tried others, because NICE wanted me to (to save money) and had occasional side affects, I found that taking Co-Enzyme Q10 got rid of the side affects. I only take them for a time when the side affects are unbearable, and this works for me. Please check with your GP or cardiologist before taking them.

  • @Kasibarndoor - I take ubiquinol (the better form of Q10) every day and have done for over a year, They made no difference to the memory and cognition loss I suffered with Liptor. I'm 43 years old, to young to be a vegetable!!!

  • Besides which, I did another chemist test yesterday and it came back at the top of normal levels. Proving my theory that it was a temporary blip due to cholesterol fixing something in my body (which it what it's there for!). I WILL NOT go back on statins, never, ever. There is no evidence they help anyone beyond men over 50 who have already had a heart attack. No thank you.

  • What are the levels? I am happy for you, you can relax.

    Are you able to identify the "blip?", any cut, infection or tooth problems?

  • Plenty of soft tissue damage with my (then) new workout regime. I'm guessing that was it! Total cholesterol was 5 (a few weeks ago it was 5.5)

  • I took Co-Enzyme Q10 when I had side effects from the statins (lipitor) and they disappeared now haven't needed the Q10 for a couple of years.

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