Hey - can we talk about my high cholesterol for a second?

So, I’ve found out that I have high cholesterol, and I guess it’s fairly high.

Further, there seems to be somewhat of a consensus that it’s hereditary, rather than lifestyle contributing to it.

Here are some stats:

I eat a low-fat, mostly vegetarian diet. I do eat fish (tuna or salmon) about twice a week for the Omega 3’s and the skin benefits. Once in a blue moon I’ll eat prawns.

I do moderate exercise pretty well everyday including walking (briskly so I break a sweat), pilates, yoga and occasionally team sports and hiking. I consider myself to be in “good” shape. When I went for an assessment at a local gym (it was a freeby type deal), my cardiovascular system was rated as that of an “elite athlete” - which is kind of funny, since I’ve met and worked with some elite athletes, and I’m not one of them - but I am pretty fit - I don’t get winded easily and have excellent endurance.

I am at a healthy weight - my BMI is 21, which is appropriate for my age, which is 31.

My body fat is about 19%.

I don’t smoke and drink VERY occasionally. (Maybe 4 glasses of wine or martinis a year.)

My mother also has high cholesterol, however she eats a TERRIBLE diet (eg she fries her hamburgers in butter!) and her cholesterol is actually lower than mine?!?!

Currently I’m scheduled for a blood re-test at the end of this month, to monitor the situation. My physician has given me the standard “how to lower your cholesterol” diet information which I’m following. It’s almost identical to my regular diet, except that it recommends chicken and whatnot, which I don’t eat.

My question is this - assuming that my high cholesterol is hereditary, as opposed to lifestyle related, will my diet even matter? If I’m genetically programmed to have a big number, will me watching what I eat actually effect that number?

I guess what I really want to know is can I eat the Skor bar that I found in the back of my desk drawer just now, without killing myself? I mean, if it’s gonna kill me, I’ll restrain myself, but it looks realllly good.

Thank you in advance for suggestions and opinions. :slight_smile:

It looks like I’m in the same boat as you. Based on my reading, there is a strong genetic component to high cholesterol. However, if you eat a poor diet, you can make it much worse.

You should do three things immediately:

  1. If you are overweight, lowering your weight will also lower your cholesterol. Continue to eat a healthy diet. You should be getting no more than 30% of your calories from fat and your total calorie intake should be on the low end of normal.

  2. Exercise. Again, this will help keep weight off or lose weight.

  3. Talk to a doctor about getting on one of the statin drugs. This will probably bring your cholesterol down significantly.

In addition, under doctor’s supervision, you should consider taking 1000 to 5000 mg of Niacin a day. This raises the HDL (“good cholesterol”).

Not to be to snarky or anything, but did you actually read my post?

Also, what about the Skor bar?

Eat whatever you want. It’s your life.

::hides in shame never to be seen again::

First, lots of people are just wired to make cholesterol out of anything that comes along, dietary-wise. Others have livers which aren’t that thrilled with making cholesterol unless they really, really have to.

Even so, diet plays a role. Eat foods that are high in saturated fat, and the body which is so inclined to do so can easily turn that into cholesterol with little expenditure of energy. Eat a low fat diet that is mainly mono or unsaturated fats, and the body has to work far harder to turn it into cholesterol.

So a person genetically disposed towards high cholesterol can decrease their cholesterol by at least 10% by adhering to diet. Unfortunately, this is often not enough, for the person whose body makes cholesterol readily. So meds, like the statins (lipitor, crestor) are added. Then we see the cholesterol levels plummet, as these meds are essentially saying to the liver “knock off making all that cholesterol, you weirdo!”

That said, cholesterol-lowering meds are much less effective if the person is still filling their body with the ingredients to make cholesterol fast and easily. And a Skor bar has lots of nice sat fat molecules, ready and waiting to be turned into LDL cholesterol by your liver!


Personally, I’d love to hear from one of our doctors about this. Radical changes to my diet did practically nothing to affect my cholesterol levels, but the statins got me to normal levels while still being able to eat the odd chocolate bar.

What am I, chopped liver?

(goes off to sulk)

What if I sprinkle the Skor bar with ground flax seed? :wink:

You didn’t mention (or I missed it and if that’s the case…*sorry * …but what is the breakdown of your total chol into LDL and HDL?

How you manage your cholesterol may differ depending upon the ratio of the LDL and the HDL.

For example: My husband’s total cholesteral is not much higher than mine but his HDL is very low and mine is very high, making my ratio much better than his, although his weight and fitness level is very good and he eats great…give him a giant salad and he is a happy man. He takes statins and I don’t.

I don’t actually know the ratio - I have a call into my Doc right now. I do know that the total number is 6.2. (3-5 is normal, apparently)

Also, QtM - the Skor bar is still sitting there, untouched despite it’s decadant, chocolaty goodness, thanks to your post. So please don’t feel under appreciated. It was you I was sort of hoping would answer…:slight_smile:

A long-ago doctor put me on high-dosage niacin (Note: NOT NIACINAMIDE!), but I couldn’t tolerate the hot flashes.

I’ve been taking statins for quite a few years now and my cholesterol is down to about 110 from 325. The important thing to remember about these drugs is to make sure you get your lipid panels done regularly to monitor liver function. Some people react badly to some of the meds, but I’ve never had a problem.

Please don’t sulk – I swear to God, your post wasn’t there when I posted. And I’m always grateful for your posts.

I’m just yankin’ your chain, is all.

Dr. Dean Ornish has claimed some success in drastically lowering his patient’s cholesterol by putting them on a strict vegan diet. A lot of people have trouble with the diet since it means no meat or dairy of any kind, but since you’re pretty much a vegetarian, it might not be all that difficult for you to switch.

The French tend to eat a lot of food that’s really bad for you, but have low cholesterol because of all the red wine they drink. You don’t have to knock back a bottle or two a day to gain the benefits, just a glass seems to work, and someone was selling pills which contained the concentrated products of wine which help to reduce cholesterol. No idea if the pills are still being made or if they do work.

I have a cholesterol level that could kill an elephant, as does my mother who generally eats pretty well. Until a few years ago, my father, who would eat steak 7 nights a week with no veggies or potatoes, had well under a 200. That’s caught up to him now.

Over the past year, I’ve lost 50 pounds. You would have to think that if that much weight it lost, the diet is relatively free from fat and cholesterol, wouldn’t you? My levels didn’t change one point. Argh.

For the first time, my doc told me my ratio. It turned out that while my body has lots of bad cholesterol, it also has tons of good. My ratio is exactly average, which seems to mean that I’m only at average risk for a heart attack.

On a happy note, an occupational doctor told me about a new technology being developed that scans your blood vessels looking for deposits. He thinks that once that is available, that the whole cholesterol issue will be changed significantly. It could be that some people have high levels, but don’t necessarily have clogged arteries. It’s hope for those of us that are stuck with high levels but don’t want to go on Lipitor, etal, for other reasons.

Hell would freeze over first. :wink:

I loves me some dairy - non-fat of course. :slight_smile:

There are some hereditary malfunctions of metabolism that generate astronomical cholesterol levels. My mother is one such unfortunate. On a vegan diet, with maximum dose of statins, they did, once, get her cholesterol down to something like 385. Once.

She doesn’t excercise much - six heart attacks, two heart surgeries, and a stroke have significantly reduced her capacity for exercise although her current doctors believe that her activity level earlier in her life has contributed significantly to her surviving the heart attacks, surgery, and strokes. She also seems to do a good job of growing collateral blood vessels, which is why still still posses feet. (It’s not just the heart arteries that clog up.)

Fortunately, I did not inherit this problem. One of my sisters did - however, she learned about it in her 20’s and took action then. Her cholesterol is still high and always will be, however, she is nearly 50 and has not had a heart attack, or even angina. Unlike some of our other relatives with this problem who have dropped dead in their mid-40’s.

I guess my point is that even IF you have a biological dysfunction there are things you can do to help cope with the damage. My mother has a very severe form of cholesterol dysfunction yet she is 73 years old - about twice the life expectancy, I’m told, as someone with her problem of her generation usually enjoys. My sister, despite having inherited the problem, is in better cardiovascular health than some people 10 or 15 years younger than her who don’t have her genetic flaw.

So, yes, if you do have a problem be very careful about your diet, it still matters. Don’t smoke. Keep excercising. A good diet and good habits will only help you, regardless of what life brings. If you were showing symptoms of diabetes you’d have to watch your blood sugar, right? But you could still enjoy a long, healthy life if you managed that condition. Alright - you have a cholesterol problem. Manage it. You know that you have to watch the fats from now on, but if you want to live to a healthy old age you’re going to have to do it.


So, I heard from my Dr. Apparently, not only is my cholesterol high, it’s probably high because I have…
<wait for it>



This does explain why I’ve been so damn tired and crabby for the last while.

I guess a wacky thyroid can give you high cholesterol. So - question number two - I’m seeing my Doc on Tuesday to discuss treatment, which I happen to know includes something like synthroid (my mom has hypothroidism as well). Will sorting out the thyroid problem erase the highcholesterol problem? I know that starting on the synthroid drug generally makes people loose some weight but not typically all that’s been gained with the hypo - is it the same for the cholesterol - that is, will the cholesterol come down, but not to normal levels, if the thyroid problem is sorted?

Alice - who sort of wished she’d skipped the damn Drs’ appt in the first place…