High cholesterol and RA

My cholesterol level remains really high and I'm at a loss. I don't have a family history. I don't eat a high fat diet because of my Gastropareis (GI disorder) and I'm not overweight anymore. I don't exercise much but I haven't for years. I'm not sure my GP believes that I'm not scoffing high fat foods but honestly, my stomach is so bad that I would violently vomit it back up.

Rheum wondered if it might be the combination of MTX and lefluonomide and has taken me of the lef but it has a long half life, so it will be a while before I see any changes. I'm not keen to go on statins due to the side effects.

Has anyone else had an unexplained high cholesterol? I am not worried because my risk of cardiovascular disease is low but my GP is pushing me to address it. I don't know what else I can do!

19 Replies

  • I had a full CV check prior to going back to daily 90mg etoricoxib & my GP was slightly concerned by my LDL. It's always been perfect before & I'm generally well controlled, in fact better when I was first tested than now, my weight is fine as is my BP & whilst my HDL was ok it was the LDL that flagged up. Being in higher risk group she explained we should be aiming for 2 (mine was 3.93) so we agreed I'd be ultra careful with my diet for 3 months to see if I could manage it myself, paying close attention to saturated fats. She knows the type of diet we eat (can't even cheat if I wanted to as we see one another socially!) so I went against everything I was advised to eat dairy wise by my Consultant & swapped butter for low fat spread (yuk), semi skimmed milk for skimmed, yoghurt for low fat, limited cheese & upgraded the olive oil from ordinary to fino. Despite no cheating (honestly, not even high content choc!) my repeat level wasn't significantly better, in fact it was worse so I started on 40mg simvastatin. I gave it a few months but the muscle problems I had, particularly in my arms, were getting too much so I swapped to 10mg atorvastatin which I've (touch wood) been ok on. I've continued watching saturated fat intake though (except butter & semi skimmed milk & the odd treat) & kept on this low dose for a good while now..... my latest results were fine.

    As I have family history of heart problems both sides & etoricoxib carries warnings 're cardio issues maybe my GP is super careful now I'm on statins but it would concern me if it was significantly high 're risk of RD & familial heart connected issues, particularly as the cholesterol guidelines are lower than the norm being in the higher risk category.

  • I think my age (27) and my lack of family history makes me cautious. Rheum said that although my risk is higher than a healthy person my age, she said it was still "very low". She suggested that if my cholesterol remains high as I approach my 40s, we could reconsider but not to worry. My GP surgery, on the other hand, seem to be very concerned about cardiac risk, despite the reassurances from rheum.

  • Same thing has happened to me. I was fit and healthy never had any major illness till RA then cholesterol sky high, Thyroid problems and vertigo and the last thing was I lost my voice for six weeks. I just wonder whats coming next !


  • Sorry, Trish. :( I know that feeling. I have now been diagnosed with blood pressure and heart rate problems; it's never ending!

  • Aww thanks for your reply. This is a rollercoaster we are all on. Its nice to have other people to talk to who can relate to how we are feeling. Hope you are doing ok.

  • hi

    before ra I never had high cholesterol I always ate healthy with occasional treats I am not sweet toothed anyway but since ra my cholesterol peaked at 6point 5

    I have tried every healthy option but only down t 5point 5 so been advised to start statins. I know these come with risks but then so does high cholesterol. will give statins a few weeks then see if my cholesterol comes down. im baffled and I think so are my rheumy and gp. hope this hlps

  • I guess I will need to reconsider the statins. They've had bad press though, which concerns me.

  • My cholesterol is always on the high side when I have uncontrolled inflammation, and reduces into the normal range when I'm on steroids or when I was able to take NSAIDs (I have spondyloarthritis not RA, so NSAIDs were the first line treatment rather than DMARDS) . For me, cholesterol levels are a better indication of inflammation than CRP or ESR. This link describes the connection chronicillnessrecovery.org/...

  • Interesting link. I assumed my inflammation was controlled because my ESR and CRP aren't too raised and my joints don't seem that red and hot. Gastro believes I still have an underlying inflammatory process going on though. Rheum isn't really thinking outside the box right now. That said, I am loathe to adjust my RA meds at this point anyway.

  • Funny you say that I have developed high cholesterol and like you have GI issues so don;t eat high fat content things either but they now want to put me on statins. I am fighting going on them as I really don;t want to take more pills. I have recently found out I have a blood clot in my heart though and have been put on blood thinners. So I am afraid when I got to the cardiologist next week they may want to make me go on them. How frustrating as my family does not have high cholesterol and I have never had it before either. I am on enbrel and hydroxy

  • Hmm, think I may do some research to see if there is a cholesterol and RA link. It's interesting that there's a few of us who've experienced the same.

  • I work in a Cardiology team and whilst I do appreciate all of your concerns re side effects from statins, I cannot stress enough the life saving benefits of these drugs. We see patients with confirmed disease who rail against statins due to bad press, albeit first hand from a friend or relative or maybe poor press articles. There are sad stories out there about undetected rhabdomyolysis which is the rare painful muscle destroying side effect but the number of patients who suffer this is very very few and the benefits in reducing atherosclerosis and consequently your risk of major heart attack or stroke are so so much higher, it, and I say this with utmost respect, should be a no-brainer. Statins will significantly reduce your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, whether that be stroke or heart disease. If you do get some aches, speak to your gp as there are many to choose from and try. Atorvastatin seems generally well tolerated by many; there will be a statin out there that will do the job without negatively impacting on your life, in the way that heart disease regrettably can. Please see your gp and discuss it, with a plan to review and monitor. 😊

  • Hi. The only thing I can suggest is taking Benecol as this contains sterols that are known to reduce cholesterol. There is a drink and yogurts and they taste very nice.

  • There is a high Cholesterol/Thyroid connection

    Years ago, (apparently) Doctors knew that High Cholesterol was a pointer to Hypothyroidism.

    You are wise not to go on Statins.

    Cholesterol and Low thyroid have an inverse effect on each other.

    Do google the Cholesterol/Thyroid Connection, crashdoll.

    Treat the low thyroid, the low thyroid should go up as the Cholesterol goes down.

  • Thank you, I will have a look. I'm convinced there is something wrong with my thyroid but an endocrinologist ran all the tests and...nowt. I have an enlarged thyroid, it was so big that the dr doing the scan said there's no way my thyroid is functioning normally but this endo couldn't find any explanation other than "one of those things".

  • crashdoll,

    Ask for a printout of your all your last thyroid bloods and pop them up on Thyroid UK on here, (Health Unlocked,) members can tell if you have a thyroid problem or not. Most members now ask for their thyroid blood printouts from their Doctor's receptionist, many can now access them on line too.

    Doctors are known for saying your thyroids are 'normal' there's nothing wrong. When obviously there is something wrong with you. Many 'missed' thyroid patients go on to have Fibromyalgia type symptoms.

    Doctors do not seem to acknowledge 'Low' in range thyroid (Hypothyroidism,) only under range. I read about it daily from the many 'missed' patients wondering what is wrong with themselves.

    Many of my family members have been 'missed' they have low thyroid hormone, but feel far better now.

    Not saying you have a thyroid problem crashdoll, but well worth ruling it out.

  • Hi Crashdoll

    I was interested to read this because I have been worrying about my cholesterol lately. 18 months ago it was 6.4, now after a year on slimming world low fat diet and losing nearly 2 stone, it is still 6. My GP seems quite unbothered and I was left thinking I was being silly because it was an ok level. She assures me that I am low risk for cardiac issues but still- why hasn't it gone down! I'm lucky that my RA is well controlled on mtx and hydroxy. I shall make sure I get tested every year from now on.


  • Mine is around the same as yours, down from 7 which is something but not as much as they had hoped. I agreed to 6 monthly testing and if it doesn't shift at all, I'll have another think about the statins.

  • Statins are a con too crashdoll. My diabetic and Hypothyroid Mum took statins and ended up with Kidney failure, now on dialysis 3 times a week and also had cataracts, both well known side effects of statins.


You may also like...