Confused

Hello,

I've just found you today. I saw my GP this morning who informed me of results from a recent routine blood test. My cholesterol has risen from just over 5 to over 8 in the last five years, however GP said that I did not meet the criteria for being prescribed statins. We reviewed my diet and whilst I see I do some things right, I can easily identify that I have room for improvement, and being overweight I am keen now to restart the brisk walks each day that I used to do. He said that wasn't enough and I should taking up jogging!

I'm 46, never smoked, mum died of diabetes/BP/odema/arthritis complications at 71 and dad, whilst still with us at 79, has serious heart and lung failure (the only male member of his family who didn't die of heart related illnesses before 50).

So any advice from you wise people on where to start would be most appreciated, because at the moment I'm very sad and confused.

Thanks everyone

J

12 Replies

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  • Hi Juniper and welcome to the board. Did your GP give you any indication of what type of cholesterol that you have, ie.eFH Type 111 etc. I would have thought that five years is too long a time between checks. If you cannot take fibrates or statins, the I think diet and exercise are your options, but be careful about the jogging if you are overweight as you could be causing more damage. In my own case, my cholesterol level is 6, I had a fasting blood test yesterday, and I go to the lipid clinic on Thursday. I will post my results here.

  • I can’t comment about your GP; you need to start any aerobic exercise at a level that is right for you. That means warming up properly with some light activity and stretching, then being active to the extent that raises your heart rate to an average of 140+ beats per minute for twenty minutes or 130+ bpm for 45 minutes (from Cooper, 1982, New Aerobics for Women). Also do a cool-down.

    Whilst exercise is essential for cardiovascular health (and strength, suppleness, mood, and so forth), it hasn’t been proven to be of major benefit to weight-loss, not least because creating an energy deficit contributes to hunger. Put simply, if you continue to take in more usable energy than you lose you won’t lose weight.

    Here I unashamedly nail my colours to the mast by recommending a natural food diet. That means consciously considering what you eat in terms of any processing it has undergone.

    Protein tends to go hand in hand with fat in nature, which helps sate appetite as well as providing the nutrients for growth, maintenance, repair and immunity. This needs to be balanced with fruit and vegetables (particularly greens) that provide water soluble vitamins, fibre to aid the digestive process, and help balance the alkalinity of your blood.

  • I heartedly concur with Concerned about diet. I had to change my diet to dairy free last year because of years of intolerance that had been misdiagnosed and I haven't felt better. I have a cholesterol level of 7 but my LDL and my HDL are almost the same figures (have you had your GP tell you the breakdown of your figures?) and have you read up on the differences of LDL and HDL and the Lipid family in general? Bear in mind, that cholesterol is a natural substance made by the liver to keep the body fit and to fight infection, so I have always believed what you put into your body should help it to run (like petrol and oil in a car), and keep away from the processed foods with all their chemical nasties. Exercise does not help you to lose weight, but it does tone, keep the organs of the body up to snuff, and gets you into a routine every day even if it is only a walk to the shops. Take a longer route, a different route every day to maintain interest and if you wish, carry an iPod to listen to if you don't have a nice park or wood to walk through to keep up the momentum. City walking is not my cup of tea and I need to have something to keep me going. I'm lucky, I live in the country and every day walking is a joy here.

    If you want to go to a gym or swimming make it a regular thing, even if its raining outside, as you will see the benefits. Don't worry too much about the family history. Medicine has moved on to such an extent, even when my Mother died in 1987 with a heart attack, things were changing and her medication was becoming "old fashioned".

    Welcome to the forum Juniper and when you have read this go for a walk. You will come back with a smile on your face, (especially if the sun is shining!) All the very best to you and hope to hear from you soon

  • Hi Juniper,

    I am enjoying a wonderful holiday in the USA at the moment but catching up on Health Unlocked! Really surprised that your GP didn't prescribe statins straight away...most do! It is possible to lose weight just by sensible eating and just take the exercise gradually and build up, it really does work. I hate jogging, but love swimming so find something you actually enjoy.

    The decision about medication is not an easy one and it is up to you..good luck.

  • Swimming is probably better than jogging, at least for the joints. Personally, I prefer cycling, especially if there's a bike-able green space near. That and diet, maybe including some ideas from the UCLP on the HEART UK website, seems like the best place to start to me. Good luck!

  • Even with my figure of 6.8 my GP did not prescibe statins and, although, they were mentioned her main concern was diet and weight control. My BMI is 24, and as I had already changed my diet due to intolerances my GP had NO INTEREST in that at all and seemed more concerned to get me to go vegetarian!!!!!!! ("Meat should only be eaten on feast days") Christmas and Easter in my case!! My blood pressure in on the low side, it always has been, never above 120/75 at the highest and 98/60 at its lowest. Depends whether I have rushed to the surgery because I was late!!!!

    I follow my own regime. A dairy free diet as I no longer suffer from over 30 years of undiagnosed dairy intolerance which I had to have tested privately as the GP wouldn't put me forward for any tests. Only an "exclusion" diet which meant I was eating only those things that didn't give me pain, mostly water and soup!! My husband came to my aid and told me to go privately, and now I can enjoy a healthy diet of fresh vegetables, fruit and salads which I couldn't before. Makes me wonder what damage 30 years of poor diet has done to me. I hope that I can rectify the damage, but as my figures are slowly improving and my LDL and HDL figures are almost the same I think my body is recovering!

    I do a lot of walking. I live in an area where I can use a "green" gym (the countryside) and go out every evening whatever the weather. We used to have a dog and believe me they are wonderful for getting you out whatever the weather outside. We try to keep to the old routine and go out every day. I have never been a sportswoman (school PE was never my strong point! and I loathed and still do loathe team sports!!) so walking when I like where I like suits me down to the ground.

    I will go the the GP to have a yearly check of my cholesterol as that is the only way to do it accurately. Whether the home tests are accurate or not I cannot decide, but perhaps it is a good way to monitor your progress as the machine will be the same.

    I still want someone to tell me catagorically that statins are the answer. The "experts" are still arguing amongs themselves over them so how are we to make any sensible decisions about our health if they can't agree!!!

    The less chemicals we put in our bodies the better. After all, cholesterol is a natural part of the body's defences against infection so should we be lowering their levels at a time when, as we get older, we are becoming more susceptible to arthritis, rheumatisim, diabetes, and other ageing health problems and the body needs all the ammunition it can get to fight them?

    I remain perplexed but healthier, all the best to you

  • You takes your choice and bets your life. You won't ever get conclusive proof of much in medicine, so do what you think best. I feel that FH is more likely a sign of some regulation problem than the body fighting infection for decades on end, though.

  • FH is a complicated thing that doesn't get the answers from all the investigations that have been done. What I find puzzling, if FH is so deadly why hasn't the genetic line of inherited FH finally "done" for those unfortunates who have inherited it and the "line" died out many generations ago?

  • At a guess, if you've heterozygous FH, you'll have enough time to procreate before it kills you. Secondly, genetic mutations can start new FH lines at any point.

  • A DNA puzzle and one that is going to remain perplexing for many years. It would be interesting if there was research into many-generational survival rates to see what effects modern treatment makes and whether or not there is improvement in survival rates. I wonder if there is one. I know they tend to "keep an eye" on members of families with FH but do they have an ongoing research study going forward for say, 50 years, or are they just treating each family as one unit and not corrolating results?

  • Sorry to be so late in replying but I have only just read your question. The one statement which leapt out at me was that members of your father's family had died of heart-related illnesses before the age of 50. This fact, coupled with your cholesterol level of 8 mmol/l, should have made your GP send you off to a specialist lipid clinic forthwith. You don't give your sex, but the advice would be the same. Do you live near a hospital with this facility, or in the back of beyond? Please go back to your GP & insist on a specialist opinion, even if this means travelling some distance. You need to have your lipoproteins measured, discuss the results with an expert, and take his advice on future therapy. I would be interested to know what happens.

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