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Old 03-19-2005, 11:45 AM   #1
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marcuswelbie HB User
Angry Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

Hi All..

I am new to these boards but wanted to check in to see if anyone else is or has experienced what I am experiencing.

I was diagnosed with Anxiety and Depression about 4 months ago....of course it all started with a panic attack which prompted me to rush to the ER thinking it was a heart attack, of course EVERYTHING fine (including cholesterol).

Anyway, after about 2 months I moved back to Las Vegas from Denver and had another doctors visit, including some blood tests (cause I was convinced something was wrong - anxiety will do that), anyway I was shocked to find that my Cholesterol was very high, I don't know the exact numbers but total cholesterol was around 268...HOW??? how in a matter of 2 months can my cholesterol go from being NORMAL to that high?? so doc tells me diet/excersise won't fix this and just prescribes me the statin ZOCOR ..I am like...OK?? you not going to talk to me about this?, he didn't care. So two months later now I have still not taken the statin, I refuse to believe that my cholesterol has risen dramatically in such a short period of time and I do not want to risk my health further by taking this drug.

Anyway, over the past 2 months I have taken several home 1 time cholesterol tests with a wide varying of results. One time I had a perfect total cholesterol of 166 then the next week it was back up to 220, now last night I almost fainted when I read a whopping 306???? HOW ACCURATE are these tests??? I just don't think I have high cholesterol....

Can Anxiety really do this to your cholesterol levels??

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks.

 
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Old 03-19-2005, 04:08 PM   #2
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Re: Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

Marcuswelbie,

Stressful situations can and often do cause cholesterol levels to go up. Even in the absence of stress, cholesterol levels often fluctuate. Anxiety is bad enough, but when you add to it the stress you are under when you move from one city to another, and then have your cholesterol checked, it's not so surprising that the level had gone up.

It would have been more helpful if you provided a more thorough breakdown, such as LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. But I wouldn't start popping statins based on one elevated cholesterol result, especially if prior readings had been considerably lower. Now, if your numbers are consistently horrible, then that's another story. I would hold off on taking them until you have had additional blood tests taken, preferably when you are under much less stress.

As for home test kits, I wouldn't rely too heavily on the numbers you get from those. They're not always very accurate. In fact, sometimes they can be way, way off.
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Old 03-19-2005, 04:17 PM   #3
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Re: Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

Thanks Arizona.

Unfortunatately I wish it were that easy to get rid of my stress, unfortunately Anxiety disorder is something ou can't just get rid of. I think if I get my stress level down though..my cholesterol will go back down with it.

I am supplementing with Omega 3's, Garlic, l-theanine and lots of oatmeal right now...lets see what happens.

Generally, how long can someone go with High Cholesterol before it catches up with them and effects their health?? Does it take YEARS like High Blood pressure does? Silly question I know...but this is all ne to me.

 
Old 03-19-2005, 04:57 PM   #4
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Re: Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

Marcuswelbie,

Heart disease doesn't happen overnight. It develops over many years, even decades. Just remember that just because you have high cholesterol, that doesn't necessarily mean that anything is going to happen to you. There are plenty people with high cholesterol who are still walking around in their 80s and 90s. By the same token, there are also plenty of people with normal, or even lower than normal levels who suffered heart attacks at relatively young ages. I know that doctors like to frighten patients with doom and gloom scenarios unless their cholesterol number is reduced to some ridiculously low level, but I strongly suspect that much of this is being greatly exaggerated. In fact, I think they've already gotten to the point where they have pushed the envelope much too far with their forever changing ridiculous guidelines. They are actually scaring people half to death, and they're very good at it. Doctors can practically make people believe that unless they leave with a prescription, that they'll most likely drop dead on the sidewalk.
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Old 03-19-2005, 06:32 PM   #5
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Re: Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

Thanks Arizona...

You made me feel alot better about it!!

 
Old 03-28-2005, 08:30 AM   #6
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Re: Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

Hi,

I noticed you have Anxiety, so do I. I wonder if this has anything to do with our cholesterol levels also. My total is 250. My good cholesterol is only 47. My doctor wants me to exercise and diet for 6 months and have it rechecked. It has scared me so much I am really watching everything I eat. Hope your anxiety gets better.

Candy41

Last edited by candy41; 03-28-2005 at 08:33 AM.

 
Old 03-29-2005, 05:43 PM   #7
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Re: Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

Quote:
Originally Posted by candy41
Hi,

I noticed you have Anxiety, so do I. I wonder if this has anything to do with our cholesterol levels also. My total is 250. My good cholesterol is only 47. My doctor wants me to exercise and diet for 6 months and have it rechecked. It has scared me so much I am really watching everything I eat. Hope your anxiety gets better.

Candy41
I think that almost half of my current anxiety was caused by my doc scaring me about the cholesterol. i've been eating cholesterol healthy for over 10 years, and this last time he took away everything that was left that I enjoy. I'll just have to eat cardbaord I guess! I told him that after researching statins, that is the last thing I will do. TC was 241 this time, up from 226 in October.

 
Old 03-31-2005, 09:41 AM   #8
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Re: Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

I have always had borderline cholesterol but the doctors have never suggested I take a statin (yet). My history is as follows:

Sometime prior to 1998 (don't have the date on this test)
TC 243
HDL 49
LDL 170
Tri 118

1998
TC 207
HDL 50
LDL 143
Tri 68

2001
TC 224
HDL 48
LDL 152
Tri 118

2005
TC 213
HDL 56
LDL 144
Tri 63

Obviously my 2005 results are the best I've ever had... almost lowest LDL, highest HDL and lowest Trigycerides.

I had my children in 1997 and 2000. During this time I was exercising regularly, but I was not eating very healthy and I was indulging in alcoholic drinks (socially) on a regular basis. I was also highly anxious and not sleeping well at night.

In 2003 I had an anxiety breakdown and started focusing on relaxation techniques, including biofeedback and neurofeedback on a weekly basis. I continued to exercise, but my diet has not been great. It's not bad most of the time (except for major holidays), but it's not great. I also have continued to drink alcohol (again social drinking... never at home by myself, but I do drink with friends). I also was diagnosed with minor hypothyroidism (by a national thyroid specialist), which apparently I've had since at least 1998 (just checking my blood test records), but this wasn't noticed because the current TSH ranges are way too broad to find those. (For more information about too broad test results, check the latest information thyroid issues.) So I am taking a small does of Armour and Synthroid daily (since April 2003).

When I was in the thyroid doctor's office, he had posters saying that thyroid problems can affect cholesterol levels.

Given all this, I believe my better cholesterol results could be due to the relaxation therapy I am doing and/or the thyroid medication. It is not due to diet. My exercise routine is approximately the same. It's hard to tell without constant monitoring what is affecting these levels. I can tell you that I am much less anxious these days and I am sleeping very well. My thyroid levels have been normal for a year now.

Something to keep in mind... The 2005 cholesterol result was taking on January 13, immediately after the Christmas holiday during which I indulged in just about everything that was bad for me... chocolate, egg-nog, champagne, etc. etc. At no time did I limit myself and I gained about 5 pounds. I drank quite a bit socially because there were so many social events. So my diet was HORRIFIC. (I've been working on turning it around and am increasing fruits and vegetables, decreasing alcohol consumption, etc.)

Anyway, I never worried about my borderling cholesterol results until my mom had a heart attack this past week. (She's okay now, after surgery to install stents.) She's always had high cholesterol and I don't know how much I take after her. Her father died of clogged artery problems at age 54. So now there is an official pattern of heart disease in my family. My grandfather had a horrific lifestyle... didn't exercise, smoked, drank heavily. My mother's lifestyle was a bit better, but I've never been impressed with her exercise and eating habits. (She thinks they are good, but she eats a lot of carbs and sugar and doesn't exercise as regularly as she should.) She's probably 30-40 pounds overweight. She was on a statin, which lowered her cholesterol level to 221 (don't know what the ratio was, unfortunately). She denies being stressed, but she doesn't sleep well at night and frets about a lot of things. She's also way too committed to activities and organizations and does too much for other people. So I believe stress probably had a major impact on her heart disease. The blockage that caused her minor heart attack was as bad as you can get. She is very lucky she didn't have a massive heart attack.

I apologize for the length of this message, but these are not simple issues and I believe there are multiple factors involved, including as you all bring up, stress and anxiety. I think that most doctors don't take stress/anxiety/depression into the equation. In fact, my mom's cardiologist told me and my father that my mother needed to change her eating and she needed to exercise more. He didn't say anything about relaxing and dealing with her stress.

Anyway, as a side issue, what I am worried about now is if I reveal this family pattern to doctors, they will immediately put me on a statin. I believe my cholesterol ratios right now are good and if I just focus on improving my diet and cut back a bit on the social drinking that should be enough. I am continuing the relaxation and am going to add meditation and/or yoga.

I'd appreciate any comments about all of this. Again, I realize this is a long and complicated message, so my apologies about that.

--CarrieLynn

Last edited by carrielynn; 03-31-2005 at 11:20 AM.

 
Old 03-31-2005, 11:54 AM   #9
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Re: Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

Quote:
Originally Posted by carrielynn
. . . Anyway, as a side issue, what I am worried about now is if I reveal this family pattern to doctors, they will immediately put me on a statin. I believe my cholesterol ratios right now are good and if I just focus on improving my diet and cut back a bit on the social drinking that should be enough. I am continuing the relaxation and am going to add meditation and/or yoga. . .
Just a suggestion, carrielynn. Don't think of your doctors putting you on anything. You are the one in charge of your health. When you go to a doctor, you are paying him or her as a consultant for advice, but you are ultimately the manager in charge of making the decisions. You may want to read the thread "For the ladies," and make a copy of the JAMA article. It looks like the research points to there being no real benefit for women to take statins. Further research may need to be done to confirm that, but I certainly wouldn't conclude right now that there is enough evidence to warrant taking it and putting up with all the risks involved.

 
Old 03-31-2005, 12:32 PM   #10
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Re: Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uff-Da!
Just a suggestion, carrielynn. Don't think of your doctors putting you on anything. You are the one in charge of your health. When you go to a doctor, you are paying him or her as a consultant for advice, but you are ultimately the manager in charge of making the decisions. You may want to read the thread "For the ladies," and make a copy of the JAMA article. It looks like the research points to there being no real benefit for women to take statins. Further research may need to be done to confirm that, but I certainly wouldn't conclude right now that there is enough evidence to warrant taking it and putting up with all the risks involved.
Great advice. I'll check out the "For the ladies" thread.... thank you for the pointer.

I will probably not even mention the family heart disease risk, which will force the doctors to just pay attention to me and my lifestyle, rather than focus on my family history. (My risk ratios are pretty good, even though the overall level is 213.) I think it's important to pay attention to family history, but also to understand the reasons why family members had problems. I can definitely point to diet, exercise and stress issues with both my mother and my grandfather. And my parents both claim to be very laid-back people, but I'm sorry, this particular apple did not fall far from the tree... They are in such denial it's amazing.

As for prescribing drugs to control cholesterol.... I personally think many doctors are puppets of the drug industry. The older I get, the less attention I am paying to doctors when they whip out their presciption pads. I'm sure there are cases where a statin is warranted, but I would love to see someone do some research into how much the drug industry influences the acceptable LDL ranges.

I also think stress and anxiety are HUGE variables when it comes to heart disease. After I wrote my other post, I started thinking of the younger people I know who have had heart attacks and died... they were all seemingly healthy people who were not overweight. What they all did have in common was a very stressful lifestyle and career.

Stress affects just about every system in your body. How about everyone on this board do yoga or meditation for 6 months, then get your cholesterol tested again? See what happens.

--CarrieLynn

 
Old 03-31-2005, 06:20 PM   #11
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momcat1 HB User
Re: Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

Quote:
Originally Posted by carrielynn
Great advice. I'll check out the "For the ladies" thread.... thank you for the pointer.

I will probably not even mention the family heart disease risk, which will force the doctors to just pay attention to me and my lifestyle, rather than focus on my family history. (My risk ratios are pretty good, even though the overall level is 213.) I think it's important to pay attention to family history, but also to understand the reasons why family members had problems. I can definitely point to diet, exercise and stress issues with both my mother and my grandfather. And my parents both claim to be very laid-back people, but I'm sorry, this particular apple did not fall far from the tree... They are in such denial it's amazing.

As for prescribing drugs to control cholesterol.... I personally think many doctors are puppets of the drug industry. The older I get, the less attention I am paying to doctors when they whip out their presciption pads. I'm sure there are cases where a statin is warranted, but I would love to see someone do some research into how much the drug industry influences the acceptable LDL ranges.

I also think stress and anxiety are HUGE variables when it comes to heart disease. After I wrote my other post, I started thinking of the younger people I know who have had heart attacks and died... they were all seemingly healthy people who were not overweight. What they all did have in common was a very stressful lifestyle and career.

Stress affects just about every system in your body. How about everyone on this board do yoga or meditation for 6 months, then get your cholesterol tested again? See what happens.

--CarrieLynn

Great idea, carrielynne (my g'daughter's name!), but who's got the time? Work and everyday commitment prevent some of us from being able to slice away a piece of time for our selves. Whoops, another stressor!

 
Old 03-31-2005, 07:01 PM   #12
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Re: Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

Quote:
Originally Posted by momcat1
Great idea, carrielynne (my g'daughter's name!), but who's got the time? Work and everyday commitment prevent some of us from being able to slice away a piece of time for our selves. Whoops, another stressor!
I completely understand. But consider this... if you have a heart attack and survive it, I can guarantee you'll find the time to spend on yourself. So might as well start now because you'll have to do it eventually anyway if you get some kind of disease.

I know that the "relaxation response" that Dr. Herbert Benson (who discovered it in the early 70's working with meditators) promotes only takes about 10-20 minutes a day. 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes before dinner. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and focus on a word or small phrase (such as "peace" "love" or perhaps a very short prayer)... say it to yourself when you breath out. Whenever your thoughts stray, bring them gently back to this word. Don't be an overachiever about it or flog yourself if you can't focus on the word without intruding thoughts (everyone has them), just bring your thoughts back to the word each time your mind wanders. After about 10 minutes, sit quietly with your eyes closed for another minute allowing whatever thoughts you have, then re-enter the "real world." You should feel much more relaxed. If you're diligent about this every day, you should see some cumulative benefits. (Like physical exercise.) Dr. Benson conducted studies which show physiological changes occur when you quiet your mind like this.

Great name for a granddaughter, by the way!!! I assume she's beautiful and charming too???

--CarrieLynn

 
Old 03-31-2005, 10:24 PM   #13
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Re: Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

CarrieLyne,

Thanks for the post about 'relaxation response' - I'm going to give it a try. I also agree that chronic stress is probably one of the most serious health risks ...

I think we all are stressed-out today. I know I am...

Ever increasing work loads on the job, more and more time commuting... When you get home, you are sometimes so wiped out you just want to go to sleep, but then there's dinner to get ready, the basketball or soccer or dance class to take the kids to... My wife and I share these responsibilities, but we're still running on fumes some days...

Have you personally tried the relaxation-response, and did it work for you? How long before you started to notice a difference in your stress level?

If doesn't work for me, I can always dream of my fall-back-plan: sell the house, move the family to the Florida Keys, buy a beach-front stand, and sell fresh coconuts, softdrinks, and beer for a living!!!


HubbleRule

 
Old 04-01-2005, 04:57 AM   #14
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etb72 HB User
Re: Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

i AM REALLY SCARED ABOUT MY CHLOSTEROL.

 
Old 04-01-2005, 07:26 AM   #15
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Re: Anxiety causing High Cholesterol??

Quote:
Originally Posted by HubbleRules
CarrieLyne,

Thanks for the post about 'relaxation response' - I'm going to give it a try. I also agree that chronic stress is probably one of the most serious health risks ...

I think we all are stressed-out today. I know I am...

Ever increasing work loads on the job, more and more time commuting... When you get home, you are sometimes so wiped out you just want to go to sleep, but then there's dinner to get ready, the basketball or soccer or dance class to take the kids to... My wife and I share these responsibilities, but we're still running on fumes some days...

Have you personally tried the relaxation-response, and did it work for you? How long before you started to notice a difference in your stress level?

If doesn't work for me, I can always dream of my fall-back-plan: sell the house, move the family to the Florida Keys, buy a beach-front stand, and sell fresh coconuts, softdrinks, and beer for a living!!!


HubbleRule
I have two children, ages 5 and 7. My advice is to severely cut down on child activities. I know that's hard... I'm a party girl and I want to be involved in everything and my kids have inherited that from me. But what are we teaching our children here? To have constant activity? I think that kids need to have a lot of downtime in order to have insights. We should not be depriving them of boredom!!!

End of sermon. I understand completely what you're going through with the kids, so I'm with you there... Lots of stress... good thing they're cute...

I have been doing neurofeedback therapy once a week (for about an hour) for two years now. I had a breakdown in the Spring of 2003 which made me non-functional. I couldn't eat or sleep and I couldn't leave the house. It was The Most Painful and Frightening Thing I have ever gone through. I would rather break a limb or have major surgery once a month than go through that again. The doctors I saw said I would be on anti-depressants the rest of my life, given how bad off I was. I took a low doze of Zoloft for 6 months which didn't really help much, but it did allow me to function enough to work on "alternative" treatments. I found out about neurofeedback therapy from a book called "A Symphony in the Brain"... basically it involves training brain waves to achieve certain states of relaxation. It has really worked for me and today I'm feeling more relaxed and better than I have probably my whole life. I am on no medication (other than thyroid).

The other day I had my heart rate variability (which is different from standard heart rate) tested through a system called HeartMath (many biofeedback practitioners have this system). The person conducting the session asked if I practiced yoga or tai chi regularly because my heart was very well regulated. I don't do any of those, but have thought about it. So it's definitely the neurofeedback that is helping, but I think you could add things like yoga, tai chi, meditation, etc. to your daily/weekly regimen and achieve similar results. The key is to do it regularly, just like physical exercise. Doing so creates new neural pathways in your brain. It is just as hard for some people to achieve a relaxed state as it is for other to run a mile who aren't in good physical shape. Relaxation is like a muscle.

Also, I never was a big believer in vacations before all this stuff happened to me and now I think they are NECESSARY FOR YOUR HEALTH. And you have to take them regularly to work your relaxation muscle.

Sorry this message is so long...

--CarrieLynn

 
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