Donating Blood and Cholesterol

Long time reader, first time poster…

I have high cholesterol. I mean super high, deadly cholesterol. When I was 15, it was discovered I had a problem with it and it was measured at 812. Now I’m 31 and it has never been close to 200, even with diet and medication. I’m on medication for the rest of my life, yadda yadda.

Now on to the question…
I gave blood for the first time not too long ago and after the blood was taken and cooled, the top 2/3 of the pint was white with cholesterol. All of the people that saw this freaked out (it was a mobile Red Cross bus that came to my workplace) and couldn’t believe I was still walking around. IF I gave blood on a regular basis, would this be helpful in reducing my cholesterol level, or would I be making things worse because cholesterol builds up faster than blood is produced?

Thanks for all your opinions (or facts if you have some, I havn’t found any on this yet).

As far as I know, donating blood will have no effect on your overall cholesterol levels. Sorry.

What you saw on the top of your blood sample are called “chylomicrons”. It’s emulsified fat, and seen in people with very high triglycerides.

I’ve a number of patients with very high cholesterol and triglycerides. We often manage to bring the numbers into a more acceptable range by the use of a combinations of statin and fibrate drugs (Lipitor and Tricor together are common ones for this purpose. But one must be cautious of muscle inflammation with this combo).

Donating blood will make little difference to your cholesterol levels. It will reduce them for a bit, but only temporarily. In the days before statin drugs, the occasional patient would have plasmapheresis (the removal of blood plasma, with the replacement of the red blood cells) to try to temporarily reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Good luck!


Yeah, I’m currently on Lipitor and Zetia, but whatever my liver levels are supposed to be, they are increasing, so I’m going to have to start cutting one of them back. Probably Lipitor, since I’m taking 80 mg a day.

I take lipitor 80 and 600 mg of gemfibrozil (forget the other name) and this keeps my cholesterol around 250 (was almost 500 when I was non medicated)

There is also a drug called Cholestramine that used to come in a nasty orange powder but is now in pill form that isn’t systemic but leeches the cholesterol out of your system as it passes through your digestive tract… ask about that at your next doctor visit?

The other name for gemfibrozil is Lopid, I started out on that.

I’ll definately check on the Cholestramine. Thanks.

Have you tried eating oatmeal? It’s cholesterol-depleting properties are suspected. My numbers are great. I’ve recommended it to a few folks with elevated levels, and they said it has helped, to varying degrees. I have a bowl EVERY morning. Hey, it couldn’t hurt. If nothing else, you’ll get a little extra fiber. Talk it over with your physician, or perhaps a dietician/nutritionist. Good luck.

I’m not sure you’d want to add cholestyramine to Zetia, kilr. They both work at the level of the intestines, reducing bile re-uptake. And cholestyramine is notorious for binding other medications and keeping them from being absorbed. You may want to ask your doc about the use of Lopid with Zetia and Lipitor. Do you have a lipid specialist, such as an endocrinologist involved? I am just a family practitioner, but I spent a summer in med school working in the Lipid Research Center at my alma mater. Even so, I still refer the tougher hyperlipidemia cases, at least for some helpful advice.

Sounds like you might be one of the familial hypercholesterolemics, whose livers lack receptors which “see” how much cholesterol and triglycerides are in the blood. The liver is thus near-sighted, if not blind, doesn’t see all the lipids out there, and thinks “holy moly, we’re low on cholesterol! Let’s make lots more!!” Thus the body uses all its resources to turn nearly anything it can find into cholesterol.

Hey, Kilrwolf, sounds like you have the same (or very similar) problem my mom has - her cholesterol levels are sky-high too, despite drugs and diet and exercise. She’s 72, by the way, and still on her feet, so don’t let anyone tell you you’re doomed to an early grave with this. It’s very important, however, to remain as healthy as possible otherwise - mom’s also had six heart attacks, multiple surgeries, and a stroke. Then again, her cholesterol levels were untreated into her 40’s because we just didn’t have statins back then. Certainly, the earlier you start dealing with this situation the better.

By the way, they’ve never gotten my mom’s cholesterol below 280. Ever. I think she’s back up into the mid-300’s but I don’t ask too often.

I used to work in a Red Cross donor center. We’d get the “foaming pint” effect about once or twice a week. Apparently not a problem for the recipients - I suppose if you’re bleeding to death from a car accident the level of triglycerides in the new pint they’re putting in you isn’t the highest priority. And for some reason the folks who had this effect from their donations always seemed to be skinny types.

And Qadgop, thanks for the concise description of hypercholestemia - think I’m going to start using it myself.

No charge, broomie.

QtM What is the highest Lipid results you’ve seen in a pt? I work in the lab and i have a wierd thrill hearing about insane levels in people who are still alive (walking and talking alive). We once had a patient with a 2.8 hemoglobin, still alive and talking to you.

Care to share some crazy Trig, Chol, LDL levels?

walking talking hgb in an alcoholic patient who shut down his bone marrow: 2.5. It got better strictly by stopping drinking and giving vitamins and a normal diet.

Little girl who was homozygous for type II hyperlipidemia: Total Cholesterol of 1400

I forget the trigs, but it was in the 50,000+ range. Nasty pancreatitis in that one.

HDL of 9. That was an unfortunate person.

I’ve seen LDLs over 400 but don’t recall just how high.

Wow 1400! That’s insane. I thought mine was high :slight_smile: You’ve given me hope.

In my case I have a type of nephrotic syndrome called focal segmental glomulerosclerosis. So the way they explained it to me was the kidneys filter out too much protein and my body senses the lost protein and thinks “gee something was there … what was it? Oh well fill it with cholesterol!”

I too refuse to give into the doom and gloom. I was told my kidneys would both fail before I was 18 and I still have both of them, They also told me people with my disease ‘don’t have kids’ and I have 2! But the last one was pretty scary so I’m not suicidal enough to go for 3. I do try and take care of myself, keep up with my docs and take my meds on schedule though.

Will be interesting to see what my first post partum cholesterol count is in January… just got back on my meds after months without them.

Oh and the lopid usually isn’t recommended with lipitor because of muscle side effects… I had to explain to the pharmacy more than once that yes I knew this and that my doctor had explained it all to me and that we were indeed looking for any adverse reactions. I’m glad they are being watchful but it was still frustrating.

Yeah, that’s a PITA arguing about it all the time. Yes, I know it raises the risk of myolysis, but it only doubles the risk to a bit less than 5% over a statin alone, and for the remaining 95% of the population who need that combo, it makes a BIG difference. Besides, I educate the patient to watch out for myalgias, report them if they show up, and then I test. The muscles go back to normal just fine if the drug is stopped.

The highest tested trig count I had was a little over 5000 and I had pancreatitis at the time. I get it every couple of years. I really need to keep a better watch on what I’m doing. I could do SO much better than I do, but I can’t resist eating a bunch of stuff I don’t need.

My mom took me to Cleveland Clinic when we first found out about it. Just been to Family Practice since then. I’ll look into getting a specialist involved, none have ever been suggested to me. The doctor I’m seeing now is pretty worthless, this will be a good excuse to find someone else.

These are some good tips, you guys. I appreciate all the input.