Cholesterol information should not be so vague. I am having difficulty completing a regiment; I feel should not be so complex. I completed two cholesterol tests six weeks apart almost a year ago. A week before my second test a nurse called to tell me I had a test for cholesterol (originally I understood it as a completely different appointment for a completely different issue) and said it was just routine because I had an elevated cholesterol level.
One month after the test I was told to take a statin and my numbers were "in range" at TC 167; HDL 48; LDL 103; Trig 81 by a nurse when I asked what the numbers meant (I received the results via letter).
I asked the following month about how long it took to finish the medication. I was told "long time" but I could try to decrease the dosage if I was interested but it was so low to start, that it would be almost pointless and I would have to come back for more tests.
My doctor stated that once I complete my cholesterol treatment, we may continue with any other issues I discover. He also does not know how long nor have any target numbers (asked on multiple occasions).
I was told to make some changes since I was at 167 so I:
I switched from 2%-1% milk
White rice – brown rice
Chicken – fish
3hrs – 8hrs of exercise (traded all vacation and sick time to work out)
Cancelled all childrens after school activities due to logistics of work outs
Ate more fruit and oatmeal, but had to change jobs to accommodate the extra bathroom break
I am also having more difficulty gaining weight after the changes
I was told my next cholesterol test could be sometime next year. (2 in 2011 & 1 in 2013) - How often is "normal?"
(1.) How long does it take to get rid of cholesterol? I was told, "It's an art, not a science."
(2.) Can I reasonably expect completion before I am 43 (just turned 42)?
(3.) How high do cholesterol levels typically spike for tests?
(4.) How much weight can I expect to gain using a cholesterol diet?
A lot of this cholesterol stuff sounds made up and I am about to give up, but I do want to give it an honest attempt because I did not go to medical school and I assume this is for my own good. (BTW, this is the longest I have ever taken a medication, I have taken approx. 262 20mg as of today.)
Was the 167 number before you started statins? If so, why are you taking a statin? FYI, statin therapy never ends, it's a lifetime treatment, so I don't understand what you mean by ending the treatment.
Statin Therapy - interesting termonolgy. I did the statins a month after the second test. Since the first test was "elevated" and the second test was "167", I assume the goal of the statin is to get rid of the cholesterol.
Sorry, no disrespect since I do not know your creditentials, but I doubt the "treatment never ends". That would mean the doctor would never see me again since the treatment would never be completed. I am also sure a nurse or doctor would have mentioned something when I asked - "How long should I take this" (3rd paragraph)
Here are your ratios given the numbers you posted:
-TC/HDL ratio 3.4 under the suggested <4.5
-LDL/HDL ratio 2.1 under the suggested <3.2
-Trig/HDL ratio 1.7 under the suggested <2.0
You can continue taking Statins if you wish but with these ratios I see no reason why you would want to do so. I'm sure you know that Statins can cause all kinds of side-effects. Doctors routinely prescribe them on the basis of the total number, rather than the important ratio. It's up to you how you proceed.
Some people never get off the meds because diet and exercise don't control the cholesterol levels or they don't exercise or change their diets. Saying that the treatment never ends does not mean that you never go back. They have to monitor you and make sure the meds are still working. You may can drop back to every other day, 3 times a week, none, change to a different med, any number of things. Sort of like someone with asthma. Besides, prescriptions are only good for one year - by law - so you have to go back to get another.
All that being said and not knowing what your levels were from the first test, the meds really seem to be working if your TC is at 167 after that short a time period. Makes me wonder if diet and exercise alone could have brought it down. I'd ask about weaning off and seeing what happens. Worst case is that it's genetic and goes back up and you have to go back on meds. Best case you get to stop them. It's worth a try.
Jenj770 – Thanks for the ratio info. I have no idea really what it means, important ratio? What is this from? Maybe the dose is too low to cause side-effects, but the nurse never told me anything about side effects. What is more important – getting rid of cholesterol or the ratios?
Titchou & Jenj770 – I think because it is such a low statin dose, perhaps the intent is to slowly creep off (obviously really slow) and let the body eventually take over. I did notice that the prescriptions are written in two 7 month quantities. Thanks for telling me, I was curious why but just assumed it was an office error.
Titchou - why do they monitor you when taking meds? Do the levels spike up or drop that dramatically? Or does your body just become immune to the medication?
The diet and exercise I started after the medication is next to impossible to continue. That is another reason I asked how long do we have to keep it up (OP)? I am a single parent and cancelling all vacations and after school activities is just not sustainable or reasonable anymore. A diet with fish (children hate fish), oatmeal, no cheese (children want cheese), no etc.. Is crazy. How big of a deal is 1% from 2% milk? Chicken for fish or white rice for brown rice? It has taken about 10 years to gain 50lbs with chicken in the diet! Another reason I ask, how much weight can I expect to gain with the cholesterol diet (from OP)?
I don’t know what "elevated" meant either, but the only difference in the tests are: I took the first one in the afternoon after lunch and the second one in the morning after the gym. (yes, I was given some notice at least to fast for the second test).
I do not have any tests scheduled. If the longest you're supposed to be on a prescription for is just a year, maybe I will be able to schedule a morning test. Worst case, I give up and learn to live with having cholesterol and switch doctors.
Thank you Rudiraven, jenj770, and Titchou for your input. I appreciate your effort and help.
Like with any med, they monitor you for side effects, overreaction (too long a cholesterol). And yes, over time, they can cease working for some folks and a change is in order. Anyone with a chronic condition should be monitored yearly - or more often depending on what it is. I have asthma and will have to go at least annually for the rest of my life. Sorry, end of story. There is no cure.
And it's not that the longest you can be on a scrip is a year, it's a legal requirement that they be done every year to keep down medical addicts and misuse of prescriptions.
I would seriously ask about weaning off - you can't just stop them. And then see where you are after 3 months of being off them. As for exercise, you don't need to be that excessive with it! Goodness. 30 minutes a day is sufficient. I jog 4 days (2 miles - takes 25 minutes) and workout 2 days (about 45 minutes total) and rest on the 7th. Fish is good but the best thing is just low fat. Lay off the cheese (to some extent but not all), no fried foods, no red meat, no Mexican and pizza. That should do it. In fact, weight watchers is great for diabetics and folks with high cholesterol...just to control the fat and carbs.
Our credentials are probably the best of all. Personal experience and many years of research into a particular ailment. Having identified the 'real' root causes of our ailment allows us to adopt a life style to counteract these causes. Armed with this information we can, are and have reversed the root causes. Many successes here on this board are by natural means. Many of us here have experienced the use of Statins.
So, we can share our knowledge and are able to provide you with excellent advice. From the horses mouth as they say.
What were the actual HDL, LDL, Trigs and Total Cholesterol figures following the first test prior to being placed on a statin? If you haven't got them, please try and obtain and post here. We need to see how 'elevated' the figures were so ratio comparisons can be computed to be able to assist you further.
By being placed on a statin by the medical establishment is unfortunately for life.
Statins reduce production of Cholesterol from within the liver. Unfortunately, they also lead to Co-enzyme Q10 deficiency, much needed by the body for muscle function.
The heart is a very large muscle.
Come off statins and your LDL will increase.
Is the 20mg you are on a weak statin like Simvastatin (Zocor)? This normally reduces LDL by between 30-40%, patient dependant.
If high cholesterol is not an inherited condition, then elevated figures have been produced by diet and lifestyle.
No more to be said on diet, other than the Mediterranean diet.
Lifestyle - This covers a very broad spectrum.
Exercise, stress, environment, air pollution and internal pollution.
The root cause of the build up of plaque within our arteries is inflammation and not cholesterol.
Millions of people around the world have higher than the recommended levels of 'bad' cholesterol (LDL & Trig's) but not a sign of plaque in any major artery. It has been found in people who fell into this category measurement was very small or in some cases, zero.
Anyway, I could go on and on, so please provide your initial results and we'll take it from there.
ps: Once placed a statin, an annual check is required to monitor the liver and lipid levels.
Something does not exactly match up. Maybe I should just skip all of this.
1) I saw my doctor and complained of muscle pain. He runs some tests and says that I have elevated cholesterol and he did not see anything in the x-rays. He says I should come back in six weeks. - I will call next week to find test 1 results.
2) A nurse calls to remind me of the appointment and to fast. I questioned the fast because it was not performed the first time. I am told this is for a cholesterol test and that it is routine.
3) Month after test I get results via mail. I call for an explaination of results. Nurse tells me to take a statin (Pravastatin 20mg). I ask, "how long?" She says, "long time." - nothing mentioned about side effects, I assume it is no different than taking medication for pink eye. I even stated that same phrase when I said pink eye has a known date, about 2 weeks. How can we be so unsure with cholesterol medication? I was told it is an "art, not a science."
4) Another month later I am told "since I am at 167 I need to change to get rid of cholesterol". I was told to increase exercise and change diet. So I went from 3hrs-8hrs workout weeks, changed milk by 1%, chicken to fish, white rice to brown rice, etc... based on nurses instructions. - Unsustainable family sacrifices because rice can be so unhealthy?
5) Later I ask about the muscle pain (original complaint) and am told once I complete the cholesterol treatment (no timeframe mentioned so thats why I asked here) I can continue with other issues. - by what I gather on this board, cholesterol is produced in the body and therefore impossible to ever get rid of and 3 medical professionals are completely wrong in their advisement.
6) Two 7-month prescriptions were written. No annual test ever mentioned or future tests mentioned. - apparently another error?
7) Liver issues? I have a family history of liver cancer. Cancer is the number 1 killer in my family. 100% cause of death of all members over 45 for three generations (my brother was the latest).
So to sum up, I am taking a drug that will kill me, that is never monitored, advised by a nurse from a doctor who will see me after I'm dead, and cancelling vacations to speed up the occurance while my children inherit cholesterol and cancer?
My family loves fruits and veggies and will continue to eat them not because of diets, but because we enjoy them. I am kind of sick of the cholesterol diet and probably won't try the Med diet or any other fad diets until my weight increases naturally but I thank you all for the suggestion.
I went from frustrated in not completing the treatment in a timely manner to confused and frustrated. I thought my original post would have been just a couple of quick answers.
Yackedar I appreciate your comments. They were organized, articulate and very impressive. I would have probably dismissed it originally had it been the only post because it is so opposite of the current medical advisement. But because it was a community effort, it has more consistency.
I will take all of your suggestions into consideration. Perhaps I will research this deeper. Any suggestions to unbiased information sources?
For now I will see a chiropractor regarding the muscle pain. They are not into pill popping.
Have you ever been given a copy of either cholesterol test results? If not, get them. I'm confused by the statement that "since I am at 167 I need to change to get rid of cholesterol". First of all, EVERYONE has cholesterol. We have to have it to live. If the 167 is your total cholesterol reading, then that is WONDERFUL! But if it's the value for any of the individual parts (LDL, Triglycerides, or HDL), then you do have a problem.
I think perhaps the call from the nurse, which aren't always informative, has caused confusion. I always ask for the specifics of any test and a paper copy of the results (or email with it). After I see that, we discuss any issues but I will not even entertain any treatment until I do. And my doctors know that because they know me!
So, call and ask for copies or go by if that's convenient. Then we all can be more helpful with the specifics. Also, you can search for "cholesterol ratios" and there are many good articles out there that explain it and how that impacts your health.
If you like your doctor otherwise, I'd have a talk with him/her next time around and explain that you prefer to be a more informed participant in your healthcare and that in the fufure you want to see all testing results. One way to assure that with blood work is to go a week before your appointment and just have blood drawn so that the results are back by the time you see the doctor. I do that with my PCP/GP and it has worked well.
I requested the results and was told it would take 6-8 weeks for the records request. - I recently checked on the status and was informed the results were missing.
Hmmmm!!......digitally stored medical records taking up-to two months to obtain from a mainframe server......If the results are missing, how come you were informed on your second visit that your initial lipid figures were elevated. I smell a rat here!!
Strange how hard copy test results are also unavailable.
General Practitioners' in the UK are able to print this type of patients request immediately by pressing the 'enter' key from the comfort of his/her surgery. I'm sure it must be the same in the US.
Well, at least you tried.
Originally Posted by Noture
I spoke to a chiropractor on what they thought of statins and he said I need cholesterol ("its important") and the pills are poison.
Your chiropractor, whether medically qualified or not, is correct on the cholesterol statement.
Yet another cholesterol study published it's fourteen year findings in June of this year stating that cholesterol actually helps increase production of a major component of the nervous system that assists proper nerve cell communication and prevents the onset of brain diseases. eg: Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Most of us here know that the brain would shrivel up without cholesterol.....
But, how much is too much?
How little is too little?
We are all different.