Bad Blood

In the last 4 years, I’ve lost almost 35lbs. I’ve done that by changing my diet to include less junk and more lean meats, vegetables, and whole grains and by running at least 3 times a week. I’ve recently added strength training to the list healthy things I do. So, it’s with these things in mind that I wonder what my cholesterol levels were 4 years ago.

I recently had a routine physical, which included blood work. Apparently, my total cholesterol is 244 (high risk) and my LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) is 162 (high, but not highest, risk) . Those levels should be below 200 and 100, respectively.

What the heck? There might be a hereditary component to this problem, but how much can that really account for? What more do I need to do to not be a future heart attack statistic?

Comments 13

  1. Roz wrote:

    First question: Was it a fasting blood draw? That will affect results. What is your good Cholesterol (HDL)? If that is high then you may not have to worry as much….

    You probably are going to have to take an even closer look at your diet. Genetics can be extremely cruel. Case in point: I’ve done something at which we at work called the ‘Lenten Diet’ the last two years. I give up a lot (I will spare details, ask if you wish) . We actually do a cholesterol check before I start and right before I finish. Based on diet alone (I have been exercising a few times a week for about 6 months, so no changes there) I went from having high levels of total cholesterol, LDL, Triglycerides, to being within normal limits. After Lent ended I went back to eating a bit more like I did before (some changes are sticking). The total cholesterol went up, my HDL dropped…bad news again…..

    Oh, the fun things I learn working at the Cardiovascular Institute….

    Posted 10 May 2007 at 5:14 pm
  2. Funky Dung wrote:

    I fasted for 12 hours.

    Posted 10 May 2007 at 5:26 pm
  3. Rob wrote:

    244, even with a great HDL, is still way too high.

    If you have been eating a low cholesterol diet, that may be causing the hypercholesterolemia. You have bacteria in your gut that produce cholesterol. If there isn’t enough cholesterol in your diet, some people’s bacteria can put in overtime and actually raise their cholesterol. Seriously. I know three people, all related, that take cholesterol medicines and don’t worry about cholesterol intake — it produces better results than low cholesterol diet and medicine together.

    Even if that’s what’s happening, chances are, you’ll only get your cholesterol down to 200 with an optimum diet.

    You’re probably looking at drugs. Sorry, chief.

    They pound mine down to about 100, with a 38. I don’t have the paradoxical gut bacteria — without drugs, my cholesterol is 180. As a diabetic, that’s way too high.

    Posted 10 May 2007 at 6:50 pm
  4. Funky Dung wrote:

    Any chance the test could have been thrown off somehow? I ate right up to the 12 hour cutoff.

    Posted 10 May 2007 at 10:28 pm
  5. Funky Dung wrote:

    BTW, I’ve begun strength training 3 days a week. I’ve heard that might help lower my cholesterol. I’m not sure why. Thoughts?

    Posted 10 May 2007 at 10:31 pm
  6. Rob wrote:

    I’m not that familiar with the physiology of strength training. Having muscles means you have to feed them — food that might go to fat instead goes to feeding muscle. It might burn off cholesterol the same way, but I don’t know for sure.

    If you followed the cutoff recommendations, the test should be accurate. A repeat to check cholesterol might knock you down some, but they want your LDLs below 100 and your total below 200. Let’s say the test is off slightly. That would drop you from the high risk to borderline category, and you have no other risk factors. They might have you alter your diet further to see if your cholesterol can go below 200 that way, but if I were to bet….

    Posted 10 May 2007 at 11:21 pm
  7. Emily wrote:

    My dad’s cholesterol levels were relatively high, and he began eating oatmeal daily. His cholesterol levels are down several points… Granted, you have farther to go, but oatmeal surely can’t hurt. (I didn’t mean that to sound like an ad for Quaker Oatmeal.)

    You are obviously eating healthy, but there are certain foods that are better than others at reducing cholesterol levels:

    244 is really high for someone who is eating healthy and running. Either the test was way off (unlikely, although you could always try again to be sure), or you are probably looking at the possibility of using drugs to lower your cholesterol levels.

    Posted 11 May 2007 at 2:10 pm
  8. Mean Dean wrote:

    Well, kudos on the weight loss anyway! That’s an important improvent to your health and you would not be beefing (excuse the pun) about cholestoral w/the other issues the extra weight can bring.

    Having just lost 80 in a couple years, I feel your pain – and understand the frustration of having yet another hurdle.

    But I think there is some good advice here w/regards to taking a second look at diet, excersize and other not-so-much fun as ice-cream sundaes stuff.

    Posted 13 May 2007 at 7:18 am
  9. Funky Dung wrote:

    Thanks to all for the advice I’ve received so far. 🙂

    Posted 14 May 2007 at 11:53 am
  10. Funky Dung wrote:

    Mean Dean: Blogs4God lives?!

    Posted 14 May 2007 at 11:54 am
  11. Jerry wrote:

    You may also wish to investigate increasing your niacin intake and also taking a fish oil supplement. Jacking up your fiber more couldn’t hurt either.

    Posted 16 May 2007 at 8:12 am
  12. edey wrote:

    you can always substitute flax seeds for fish oil if the desired nutrient is the omega 3 fatty acids.

    Posted 16 May 2007 at 5:45 pm
  13. Jerry wrote:

    Flax may not be quite as simple a substitute as it may appear. Fish oil may be superior in bringing down LDLs, as one paper that I found suggest.

    I looked in the first place because I know that while both flax and fish oil may have omega-3s, the specific omega-3’s in question are different. Linolenic acid from flax must be metabolized to form longer fatty acid chains that the body will use, such as DHA and EPA. This enzyme, as I recall, may not terribly efficient in humans. Fish kindly provide omega-3’s in those ready-to-use molecules.

    Funky: if you have high cholesterol, it may be prudent to prefer fish oil, as it seems to be more potent in this regard. It would be best to investigate this matter in greater depth, but if my relatives’ use of omega-3’s is any indication (at least one uses fish and flax, but uses more of the former), this concern seems to have some weight.

    Posted 16 May 2007 at 7:15 pm

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