Help!! advice needed, total cholesterol levels 9.1!!

I have been doing lots of reading on this site and hope someone out there may be able to help as i am getting stressed out about my cholesterol levels and what to do next.

I have had my cholesterol levels tested twice in the last month ( not sure my GP believed result! ) total cholesterol 9.1 HDL1.98, LDH6.6 and triglycerides 4.6, all i know is they are raised. My GP has indicated i will/may need to start statins and after reading about them i really don't want to, i eat healthily, BMI 22, gym three times a week, BP healthy and very normal and no other risk factors to having a heart attack ( only family history!! ) My GP has suggested there is little else for me to do, but i dont want statins...... has anyone any suggestions or similar experiences that may help or guide me as to what to do?

Thanks for reading this.

17 Replies

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  • Unfortunately the hereditary factor can be crucial, I was found to have a total level of 7.8 after a heart attack which the Consultant described as "industrially high"! Like you I was very fit runner, cyclist and swimmer so regrettably it's not a panacea. I would suggest you bight the bullet and take statins to avoid a heart attack or stroke. I was reluctant at first, but was put on a graduated dosage of Rusavastatin which has taken my cholesterol down to 4.7 and I'm working with my GP to get it down below 4. To avoid side effects we initially did a 5mg dose every other day, then up to 5mg one day and 10mg the next and I'm now on 10mg per day without problems. I did suffer side effects when on Atorvastatin so you may or your Dr. may have to experiment, but go with the professional medical advice they know what they are doing. Best if luck Mike.

  • Thank you Mike262

    I suppose i have to accept due to hereditary factors it was inevitable, but always in the back of my mind it wouldn't affect me, still not easy though! Did the side effects impact on you or your lifestyle? this is something i know would make me miserable as i am so so fit and healthy and not good at being 'the patient'. do you have any knowledge of herbal remedies and their usefulness? Thank you.

  • Henrya02, if it's hereditary like mine, you need to check what type it is. I have Type 3 and I take fibrates and aspirin. My total cholesterol was 13! and I have never been prescribed statins. Has your GP referred you to a lipid clinic as it is there you will receive the best advice. And good luck. My fibrates work, as it's down to 4,8 now,

  • There are some excellent videos on YouTube that explain the function of fat cells; far from being just an energy reserve, they are the rechargeable energy source of the body. I say this because, even though you are a ‘healthy’ weight, you seem to have metabolic syndrome symptoms.

    Lowering cholesterol levels, and lowering blood pressure levels for that matter, are not in and of their selves beneficial; it is necessary to find the underlying cause and cure it. Cholesterol is an important part of your immune system.

    Notwithstanding that, triglycerides are the body fat that your body produces, for storage in the adipose cells for instance; a level below 1.7 mmol/l is recommended. Simple biochemistry explains that triglycerides consist of three fatty acids joined by a glyc-(carbohydrate) molecule. In short, for many people controlling your carbohydrate intake to between 100g and 150g per day (evenly distributed through the day) will lower your triglyceride levels, leaving you less susceptible to chronic diseases such as metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes for instance.

  • As well as understanding better what the role of cholesterol is in the body it's also worth understanding what the real risk factors are and working to change those.

    Here is an article from

    jeffreydach.com/2008/03/27/...

    Reversing Heart Disease by Jeffrey Dach MD based on ideas from Dr Davis of Track Your Plaque

    In USA these Calcium scoring scans are reasonably cheap but in the UK we are typically ripped off.

    However the ideas that Dr Davis deploys to reduce calcium plaque levels are pretty much consistent with healthy living/eating may anyway so adopting those changes such as

    restoring Vitamin D level to above 50 ng/ml=125nmol/l will only cost £10 year.

    Magnesium supplementation also is safe and inexpensive and

    increasing omega 3 intake so you get a total of 1000mg/d EPA & DHA is not that difficult. Grinding flaxseed and taking a couple of tbsp/day isn't going to break the bank if you buy whole brown flaxseed in bulk (or share someone's whose bought in bulk)

    All of these approaches will help to reduce the scores that may be worrying your GP or health professionals and will be far more use at addressing the real problem than statins which do more harm than good for virtually everyone taking them.

    Dr Dach's article mentions Phosphatidylcholine I certainly don't supplement with choline BUT I do eat plenty of eggs and liver.

    A raw egg yolk added to a smoothie is one way to prevent the loss of choline by cooking.

    blog.cholesterol-and-health...

    Meeting the Choline Requirement -- Eggs, Organs, and the Wheat Paradox

    I also suspect that much of the benefits attributed to Krill oil are in fact due to it's Phosphatidylcholine content.

    Remember the way current Alzheimer's drugs, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, work is by preventing the breakdown of choline so it lasts longer.

    Anyone worried about egg consumption may like to read this paper

    dropbox.com/sh/bcn4uxxdup06...

    Is Dietary Cholesterol as Bad for You as History Leads Us to Believe?

  • Hi, how much magnesium do you take and what kind. I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol .

    thanks.

  • Dear Henry,

    You drop a few clues! You mention family history and your triglycerides are high for someone who sounds so fit and healthy. Could be that you have an inherited condition, maybe something like familial combined hyperlipidaemia...the only people who could really tell you are a lipid clinic (although I always ended up arguing with them!). Could you push for a referral? There may be drugs other than statins that are more appropriate for this condition...or you may decide, after weighing everything up that you don't want to take them.

    However, a lipid clinic will definitely want to prescribe medication for you with levels this high.

  • I suffered from angina last year and it was discovered that I had a 100% occluded LAD artery which required two stents. My cholesterol had been 6.2 prior to this problem. After the angioplasty procedure I was put on statins, until I could bear them no longer, and these brought my reading down to 4.8. However, I no longer worry about my cholesterol level, and I no longer take statins, because I have begun to seriously question the entire cholesterol theory. Perhaps this is what you need to do: do some serious reading looking at both sides of the argument, and evaluate whether cholesterol level really is so definitive in causing coronary heart disease. Certainly there is evidence that low cholesterol does not necessarily mean low risk for CHD, and furthermore (and this is why the use of statins worries me) cholesterol is an extremely important substance necessary for the proper functioning of neurons and other cells. From what I have seen, those who promote the cholesterol / lipid theory rarely seem to talk about the very serious health dangers of low cholesterol. In a nutshell: I am now a sceptic, and determined to find out the truth about this issue for myself. I would also like to say that it was discovered some years ago that my mother had a cholesterol reading of over 10. No evidence of heart disease. No angina. But as she was deemed to be "high risk" she was put on statins and the reading came down to under 3. She is still taking statins and I worry for her, but thankfully her body has fought back and got her cholesterol level back to a more reasonable 5.2. Her doctor tells her this is still too high. I am not so sure. I hope that this post will be accepted, given that I have questioned a theory that is probably central to what this site is about. I don't want to be negative, but honest. Science demands honesty and a rigorous evaluation of all the evidence. Therefore we should be willing to question all our assumptions.

  • As an NHS patient in the UK, i feel you can pretty much guarantee that the medication you will be prescribed will be the one that they think is good for you which will either be the right one, the cheaper one or the product that is being 'pushed'.

    So it appears to me that even though my cholesterol readings vary from 5.9-8.9 and that there is no evidence to show any family history of cholesterol or heart conditions that it is automatically presumed that high=familial. My last blood test showed my Cholesterol was 7.1 and they think it is the HRT medication that is making it high.Further more i read that i can not take flax seed as both are reduced in efficiency when taken together lol.

    My HRT has been lowered and im thinking i may need to come off it as i seem to be getting other issues with it, which far outweigh the benefits im supposed to get.

    For myself it seems i can lower my cholesterol down by cutting out all pies,pasties,cakes,biscuits, snacks,sweets, chocolates, full fat milk, high sat fat products and high fat products.But it will only lower to about 5.9 and also it means i have a very limited and boring diet in which i struggle to meet my daily energy requirement - so i begin to loose weight.Exercise, i have a bicycle, which to be honest only gets used occasionally as most of my journeys are far away ( 4 miles plus ) - which i could cycle , but not in a reasonable time frame.

    So im still trying to make a diet which is healthy,balanced and filling. As i dont need to loose much weight.

    I dont want to take Statins, but the NHS answer to high chol. is ' take statins'.

  • Hi

    I can understand your worry, I suffer from multiple drug allergies and therefore when I was advised to take satins with a cholesterol level of 7.2 I was scared stiff, I had also read all the side effect scares around satins which made it even worse, to add insult to injury I already have a very "heart Healthy" diet because of my family history, I have never drunk or smoked, my BMI is perfect and I cycle at least 80 miles per week.

    In the end however my decision was simple, my brother died at 38, my mother had her first heart attack at 50, my father had 3 heart attacks during his life. What was the biggest risk I asked myself? me potentially putting my family through the emotional trauma I'd been through or trying a statin? With the help of my GP and cardiologist we gently increased the dose of simvistatin until my cholesterol came down to 4.7, I have no side effects and no regrets, in fact I'm over the moon.

    I hope this helps you.

  • I am so grateful for all the valuable and informative replies, all of which i have read and re-read with interest and have been better able to understand so much more and really need to find out the cause of my raised levels before just accepting statins. Also the personal experiences, i can relate too......interestingly, foxrobyn you say your HRT may be affecting your levels, I too, am on HRT( have been for last 4 years) which also adds to my dilemma as i know my risk of heart disease increases once i become menopausal and at 52 i really don't want to stop it yet, my HRT has never caused me any problems.

    I am due to go back to my GP to discuss 'things' further and now feel better informed and advised not to just accept a bog standard statin without investigating further, heres hoping my GP will listen!! As i work in the NHS i am acutely aware as to how care is standardised and not always individualised! and Practice funds are very variable ( i had better not get on my soap box)....

    I truly appreciate all the responses to my question, hearing and reading your experiences is reassuring.

  • Dear Henry

    Having borderline high BP I recently had my cholesterol levels checked, its 5 and my doctor said I had plenty of the "good" cholesterol. I have a family history of BP and diabetes, so need to keep an eye on my health. I put the cholesterol levels down to beetroot supplements as I am keen to avoid statins and BP medication. My diabetic mother was prescribed statins and the side effects were awful so she stopped taking them after discussion with her GP. Her cholesterol level is also 5, much to the annoyance of the nurse who doesnt believe supplements work. I dont advise anyone to ignore GP advice, but I firmly believe that taking beetroot, along with a few lifestyle changes, has been beneficial in controlling my cholesterol levels.

  • Dear Henry

    I had a stent about 10 years ago. I discovered an American doctor named Joel Fuhrman and have been following his advice since then. I am now free from aspirin and statins with the approval of my English GP. I know you say that you eat healthily but Fuhrman's programme is quite radical and aims for the absolute highest nutrition for the calories consumed. I have lost 2 stone and feel absolutely wonderful, cycling , jogging, climbing, etc. (I'll be 64 in March) I would urge you to get any of his books. I would recommend "Eat to Live" and "Fasting and Eating for Health" for starters. Good luck with it all. Chas.

  • Fuhrman's principles have some validity, but show a vegan/vegetarian bias. Animal products are consistently high in nutrition (see Loren Cordain's Paleo Diet). Those people with longest/healthiest life expectancy, such as the Okinawan's, are omnivorous.

    Perhaps most telling is his willingness to accept apparent links to heart disease, cancer and other chronic disease based on observational studies that do not isolate variables; association does not prove causation. Processed meats are often grouped with red meat for instance, which is akin to grouping water with other clear liquids like vodka.

  • I feel your pain Henry. I had mine tested today totally on a whim and it turns out I have a cholesterol reading of 9.16. I am a 21 year old female who is far from overweight, doesn't smoke, barely drinks and I am a vegetarian. I barely eat animal products. The lady that took the test was astonished. She told me that I had the highest reading of anyone she had tested in the office (i had my tests done as part of a work program, and there are over 400 people in my business, many of them obese, middle aged, meat hungry men). I had two grandfathers that had heart attacks, but I had assumed that was smoking related. My father has high cholesterol but that is because he is very overweight and feasts on meat. Ironically his cholesterol is 5.4.I am so confused as to what to do now. Off to the doctor I should think.

  • My cholesterol was at 8.5 in my late 40's and I have been on Simvastatin for over 12 years with NO side affects. My reading is now around 5.1. My understanding is that diet only plays a small factor in determining cholesterol, its down to my personal metabolism and my liver!

  • From what I have ready 1/3 cholesterol is from food and 2/3 the body produces. Individual's 2/3 can vary a lot is my understanding.

    Morden way is to look at inflammation and CRP blood testing.

    Have aske my GP already for this, not every NHS are doing this blood test.

    As I see it food intake control and regular exercise is helping me to keep the number under control. My health check is if I can do 30 minutes in the gym, tread mill every time I go to the gym, I am OK. Only time will tell.

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