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    Old 05-30-2012, 09:04 AM   #1
    cameronjs
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    New to the site: Could someone help me decipher my cholesterol numbers

    Hi,

    First of all, I am new to the site, so I hope I am posting this in the correct spot.

    On to the meat of it:
    I am 31. I am about 5' 11" (6ft if I stand up straight), and I weigh approximately 223 (I know this seems high for my height, but I lift weights), currently with about 17 - 18% body fat (if that makes a difference; some is water-weight, so maybe more like 15-16).

    Last week I decided to go to the doctors for some issues I thought I was having, and they decided to run a bunch of tests: cholesterol, testosterone, lymph nodes, vitamin D, B12, etc..

    So, I returned this week to go over the results ... everything I thought I was having trouble with was fine, but they told me that my cholesterol was high. When I asked what could cause my cholesterol to be high, he simply said that I was eating too much! This is understandable, because my goal with weight-lifting is to put on muscle, and to do that I need to consume quite a bit of calories.

    After the doctor went over my numbers (which I did not understand, until I got home and started researching them on the Internet) with me, he immediately recommended I not eat as much, and he also prescribed me Crestor (10mg). I don't like the idea of being on medication for the long-term, so I am trying to figure out what my other options are ... Through my research, I have found that, while my numbers aren't good, people with similar numbers say that statins are not needed.

    If someone could explain what my numbers mean, and if they think statins are the correct remedy, I would greatly appreciate it.



    Cholesterol Numbers:
    Ttl Cholesterol: 268
    HDL: 3.2 (the nurse said they only had the ratio, not the number)
    LDL: 187
    Triglycerides: 112

    Family History:
    My dad has high cholesterol and is currently taking statins.


    I appreciate any insight provided.

    Cameron

    Last edited by cameronjs; 05-30-2012 at 10:51 AM. Reason: wording

     
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    Old 05-30-2012, 12:13 PM   #2
    cameronjs
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    Re: New to the site: Could someone help me decipher my cholesterol numbers

    Just to be clear: I am only looking to see if the numbers I posted indicate a need for statins. I don't want to be on them my entire life, so I'm wondering if more cardiovascular exercise and more vegetables will do the trick?

    My numbers again are:
    Total Cholesterol: 268
    HDL: ratio of 3.2 (I don't have a number for this; the nurse said they only provided her with the ratio)
    LDL: 187
    Triglycerides: 112

    Note: My dad is taking statins for high cholesterol, but other than that, I don't have any other risk factors that I know of.

     
    Old 05-31-2012, 07:16 PM   #3
    cameronjs
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    Re: New to the site: Could someone help me decipher my cholesterol numbers

    Apparently you are supposed to fast up to 12 before the test they have me, but they only asked me about food (which I had about 11 hours prior to the test), but they didn't mention drinks.

    If I had a cup of coffee, with coffee creamer (liquid) and sugar, the morning of the test, could that throw the test off?

     
    Old 05-31-2012, 10:28 PM   #4
    easygoingguy
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    Re: New to the site: Could someone help me decipher my cholesterol numbers

    I think your test is ok even though you had coffee. Your CH of 268 is high. Are you eating meat & dairy often? I can't imagine what could make it that high except diet.

    You say you need a lot of calories to "put on muscle", and since meat/dairy is a source of high calories, it would give you the calories to do so but also at a great risk of heart health that I don't think is worth it. You can body build and have low cholesterol at the same time. Research vegetarian/vegan body building.

    "I'm wondering if more cardiovascular exercise and more vegetables will do the trick?"

    Exercise will have no effect on cholesterol if diet is still rich in saturated fats. And YES, a diet of more vegetables will lower cholesterol- if it's replacing those animal/dairy foods. But the veggies need to be the most nutrient-dense (kale, spinach, etc). Also, foods high in omega 3's are very beneficial.

    About cholesterol and statins. What I've learned. If you want the most healthy arteries the goal is to have a total cholesterol of 150 or lower. Research (Frammington, China Study) into cultures that have this low of a CH finds they have almost non-existent heart disease. The people in these cultures have almost zero heart attacks. This shows they had little or no heart disease.

    So anyone can have healthy arteries and reduce heart attack risk to near zero chance with a cholesterol of 150 or lower. That's great news. But there is ONE catch:

    The CH of 150 or lower must be achieved only with diet, not drugs. Otherwise the profound heart health benefits are not fully achieved. Statins can lower cholesterol, but if diet is still unhealthy, then heart disease still progresses, and up to 30% of those on statins still have heart attacks (because of poor diet). And statins long term increase risk of diabetes. Desired optimal heart health can only be 'earned' through diet. So even if you take statins, you need to still eat healthy anyway, which will lower CH anyway to healthy levels, so then you don't really need statins. Statins give people the excuse to not eat healthy as they should. I hear the excuse that since people are not going to eat healthy anyway, it's better to take statins than not. I think if people fully understood the benefits of healthy eating vrs side effects and dangers of drugs, most would change to eating healthy.

    Last year I was eating lots of high fat foods like beef and dairy. I was 40 lbs over weight. My blood pressure was very high. (by the way what is your resting BP?) My cholesterol was 167. Which is not bad. But my HDL was too low. But I wanted to get to that ideal 150 range. I did not take a statin. Instead I changed my diet to whole foods, and 10% lean meats. I went from eating lots of beef, potatoes, dairy, sweet desserts to salads, leafy greens, veggies, beans, brown rice, nuts and seeds, omega 3 supplements, etc.

    I lost 40 lbs and now in my healthy weight. My BP came way down. I took another blood test 4 months later. My total cholesterol was now 154!! That's the IDEAL heart attack free zone range! My HDL is normal too now.

    I can't begin to tell how happy I am that I did this just from healthy eating! I exercise maybe just 30 minutes a day, usually just walking! It's healthy DIET that produces optimal health, not meds, not exercise alone! In fact, I think that exercise can make health worse if diet is poor. I explain

    Besides your cholesterol levels there is another very important factor to understand- inflammation of the arteries. I think this is even MORE important then cholesterol levels. When arteries are inflamed this means the cells lining the interior of the arteries are damaged/stressed. Not unlike if you rub your arm for 10 minutes- your arm skin cells will become inflamed. The same thing happens inside your arteries when diet is poor- such as diet of fried/processed, high in fats, sugar, salts, etc. This poor diet causes inflammation of the artery cells. The body then uses cholesterol as a 'band-aid' to start the healing process of those cells. But if the poor diet continues- the cells never heal, so more cholesterol is added. Eventually the plaque builds up and breaks and causes a blockage and then heart attack.

    So it's not cholesterol that's bad, it's inflammation, which is caused by the poor diet. Now you can understand that exercise alone might not help fight inflammation, and might make it worse! Once inflammation is stopped, then exercise helps healing process.

    Each food has an inflammation factor- for example fried and processed foods like chips, potato chips have a high inflammation, like:

    pasta
    ice cream
    french fries
    any fried foods
    farmed fish
    granola bars
    bagels
    breads
    cookies/cake
    etc

    are all highly inflammatory. It's now known that eating this type of poor diet causes heart disease (the inflammation-cholesterol repair- plaque buildup process). And I think exercise actually makes inflammation worse!

    A diet in whole foods with emphasis on nutrient-dense veggies and fruits stop the inflammation of the artery cells. And then can even reverse cholesterol/plaque buildup.

    Foods with a high anti-inflammatory rating:
    peppers
    spices like garlic, ginger, tumeric
    acerola juice
    wild salmon, tuna
    spinach, kale, mustard greens, collards
    sweet potato
    etc

    These foods above are the very highest in anti-inflammatory factor and now you can understand why they are so beneficial to artery health! They protect the artery cells from damage/stress. They should be consumed daily.

    Once a healthy diet is adopted, high in anti-inflammatory nutrient-dense whole foods, then body vitals become normal and natural. ALL metabolic factors (cholesterol, insulin, blood pressure, etc) will return to normal ranges. Amazingly achieved with healthy diet! Not exercise. Not meds. You won't need Dr's, meds, stents, hospital visits, by-pass, etc!

    You can check your inflammation level with a high sensitivity CRP test (blood sample) for about $50. A level <1 indicates little risk of heart disease. A 1-2 indicates moderate risk. A 3> indicates higher risk.

    I took the CRP test too. My CH was great at 154. I had no idea what my level would be. I was shocked. Changing to a healthy diet really improves health. My CRP was 0.7!

    Hope this helps. Hope you get your CH under control. I've found this to be a very helpful forum.

    Last edited by easygoingguy; 05-31-2012 at 10:42 PM.

     
    Old 06-01-2012, 06:30 AM   #5
    cameronjs
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    Re: New to the site: Could someone help me decipher my cholesterol numbers

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by easygoingguy View Post
    I think your test is ok even though you had coffee. Your CH of 268 is high. Are you eating meat & dairy often? I can't imagine what could make it that high except diet.

    You say you need a lot of calories to "put on muscle", and since meat/dairy is a source of high calories, it would give you the calories to do so but also at a great risk of heart health that I don't think is worth it. You can body build and have low cholesterol at the same time. Research vegetarian/vegan body building.

    "I'm wondering if more cardiovascular exercise and more vegetables will do the trick?"

    Exercise will have no effect on cholesterol if diet is still rich in saturated fats. And YES, a diet of more vegetables will lower cholesterol- if it's replacing those animal/dairy foods. But the veggies need to be the most nutrient-dense (kale, spinach, etc). Also, foods high in omega 3's are very beneficial.

    About cholesterol and statins. What I've learned. If you want the most healthy arteries the goal is to have a total cholesterol of 150 or lower. Research (Frammington, China Study) into cultures that have this low of a CH finds they have almost non-existent heart disease. The people in these cultures have almost zero heart attacks. This shows they had little or no heart disease.

    So anyone can have healthy arteries and reduce heart attack risk to near zero chance with a cholesterol of 150 or lower. That's great news. But there is ONE catch:

    The CH of 150 or lower must be achieved only with diet, not drugs. Otherwise the profound heart health benefits are not fully achieved. Statins can lower cholesterol, but if diet is still unhealthy, then heart disease still progresses, and up to 30% of those on statins still have heart attacks (because of poor diet). And statins long term increase risk of diabetes. Desired optimal heart health can only be 'earned' through diet. So even if you take statins, you need to still eat healthy anyway, which will lower CH anyway to healthy levels, so then you don't really need statins. Statins give people the excuse to not eat healthy as they should. I hear the excuse that since people are not going to eat healthy anyway, it's better to take statins than not. I think if people fully understood the benefits of healthy eating vrs side effects and dangers of drugs, most would change to eating healthy.

    Last year I was eating lots of high fat foods like beef and dairy. I was 40 lbs over weight. My blood pressure was very high. (by the way what is your resting BP?) My cholesterol was 167. Which is not bad. But my HDL was too low. But I wanted to get to that ideal 150 range. I did not take a statin. Instead I changed my diet to whole foods, and 10% lean meats. I went from eating lots of beef, potatoes, dairy, sweet desserts to salads, leafy greens, veggies, beans, brown rice, nuts and seeds, omega 3 supplements, etc.

    I lost 40 lbs and now in my healthy weight. My BP came way down. I took another blood test 4 months later. My total cholesterol was now 154!! That's the IDEAL heart attack free zone range! My HDL is normal too now.

    I can't begin to tell how happy I am that I did this just from healthy eating! I exercise maybe just 30 minutes a day, usually just walking! It's healthy DIET that produces optimal health, not meds, not exercise alone! In fact, I think that exercise can make health worse if diet is poor. I explain

    Besides your cholesterol levels there is another very important factor to understand- inflammation of the arteries. I think this is even MORE important then cholesterol levels. When arteries are inflamed this means the cells lining the interior of the arteries are damaged/stressed. Not unlike if you rub your arm for 10 minutes- your arm skin cells will become inflamed. The same thing happens inside your arteries when diet is poor- such as diet of fried/processed, high in fats, sugar, salts, etc. This poor diet causes inflammation of the artery cells. The body then uses cholesterol as a 'band-aid' to start the healing process of those cells. But if the poor diet continues- the cells never heal, so more cholesterol is added. Eventually the plaque builds up and breaks and causes a blockage and then heart attack.

    So it's not cholesterol that's bad, it's inflammation, which is caused by the poor diet. Now you can understand that exercise alone might not help fight inflammation, and might make it worse! Once inflammation is stopped, then exercise helps healing process.

    Each food has an inflammation factor- for example fried and processed foods like chips, potato chips have a high inflammation, like:

    pasta
    ice cream
    french fries
    any fried foods
    farmed fish
    granola bars
    bagels
    breads
    cookies/cake
    etc

    are all highly inflammatory. It's now known that eating this type of poor diet causes heart disease (the inflammation-cholesterol repair- plaque buildup process). And I think exercise actually makes inflammation worse!

    A diet in whole foods with emphasis on nutrient-dense veggies and fruits stop the inflammation of the artery cells. And then can even reverse cholesterol/plaque buildup.

    Foods with a high anti-inflammatory rating:
    peppers
    spices like garlic, ginger, tumeric
    acerola juice
    wild salmon, tuna
    spinach, kale, mustard greens, collards
    sweet potato
    etc

    These foods above are the very highest in anti-inflammatory factor and now you can understand why they are so beneficial to artery health! They protect the artery cells from damage/stress. They should be consumed daily.

    Once a healthy diet is adopted, high in anti-inflammatory nutrient-dense whole foods, then body vitals become normal and natural. ALL metabolic factors (cholesterol, insulin, blood pressure, etc) will return to normal ranges. Amazingly achieved with healthy diet! Not exercise. Not meds. You won't need Dr's, meds, stents, hospital visits, by-pass, etc!

    You can check your inflammation level with a high sensitivity CRP test (blood sample) for about $50. A level <1 indicates little risk of heart disease. A 1-2 indicates moderate risk. A 3> indicates higher risk.

    I took the CRP test too. My CH was great at 154. I had no idea what my level would be. I was shocked. Changing to a healthy diet really improves health. My CRP was 0.7!

    Hope this helps. Hope you get your CH under control. I've found this to be a very helpful forum.
    First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to respond.

    You are correct, I do eat meat pretty often; it is part of almost every meal of the day. I do not eat red meat every day, so the meat I eat usually consists of chicken (I would say roughly 10lbs. a month), but I do occasionally (maybe once or twice a month) have pork loin boneless (and trimmed) ribs (with a homemade dry rub; no sauce). As far as red meat goes, in a typical month I may have a total of 4 – 6 steaks (New York strip) – I’m not sure if this helps, but they are “Level 1” steaks from Whole Foods, so the cows are grass fed most of their lives – and I may have 8 – 10 grass fed 90/10 beef hamburgers (Level 4 @ Whole Foods; I heard that grass fed and/or pasture raised beef is lower in saturated fat, and higher in Omegas).

    All the other stuff you mentioned: I am not a big sweets person (no ice cream, no cupcakes, etc.), I don’t eat fried foods, however, I do eat French fries (not fried, baked in the oven) …

    I know my biggest problem is that I don’t eat enough vegetables. I do go through phases where for about a week I will eat broccoli with at least one meal, or I will have a salad with dinner, but I definitely don’t eat as many raw vegetables as I should.

    Something you are absolutely correct about is that I need to do cardio. I like lifting weights, but I hate cardio! I will also, as you suggested, more closely monitor my diet and increase my consumption of raw vegetables. Do you think taking a supplement, like a Green Superfood supplement would give me the things I am missing by not eating enough vegetables?

    As for my resting BP, I have no idea. They did check my heart rate, pulse, liver function, thyroid, testosterone levels, kidneys function, vitamin d, and vitamin b12 levels, and they said everything was good. When the nurse took my blood pressure, she said it was “great” – Note: she said this before they did my cholesterol test, so “great” meant for a “normal” person, not someone with high cholesterol (if high cholesterol even impacts blood pressure).

    The last thing I wanted to comment on is the foods that have anti-inflammatory properties: I eat a lot of spicy stuff. As a matter of fact, anytime I eat a steak, burger, vegetarian Italian sausage, or anything that goes good with heat, I either eat jalapenos or I put habanero sauce on it (Dave’s Insanity or Ghost Pepper sauce, Melinda’s Naga Jolokia, or Blair’s Mega Death!), so hopefully this will help me get back on track!

    In regards to anti-inflammatory things, I am on a prescription for Naproxen for slight tendinitis in one of my biceps. As far as you know, does Naproxen provide the same anti-inflammatory benefits as the things you listed? If so, I will definitely be refilling that!

    Again, thank you for taking the time to respond, and I appreciate the detailed and thought provoking post.

    Cameron

    p.s. Congratulations on getting your situation under control. I hope I have the same success.

    Last edited by cameronjs; 06-01-2012 at 06:31 AM.

     
    Old 06-01-2012, 10:00 PM   #6
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    Re: New to the site: Could someone help me decipher my cholesterol numbers

    Hi again, as I thought you eat a lot of meat and I'm certain you can lower your CH via diet. Chicken is not a healthy meat yet everyone thinks it is- because of decades of successful food industry marketing. Grain fed is healthier but beef should be eaten rarely, say 1-2 times a month. And chicken very rare as well. Both are highly inflammatory. The only anti-inflammatory meat is cold water fish, rich in omega 3s. But even they should be consumed no more than twice a week.

    I use to eat meat as the main part of the meal. With veggies on the side. But that's not sufficient to reduce CH. Now the meat is on the side, if at all. For example I'll sometimes have small pieces of chicken in a large romain/spinach salad with black beans on top, tomatos, a sweet potato and broccoli. This is typical of what I eat now that made all the difference. I keep the beef and chicken very small portions. That's how I got my CH down without meds. I learned this from Dr Furhman's Eat to Live book and his Nutritarian Food Pyramid.

    It's often said that it's difficult to change from being a meat eater to almost vegetarian. However, once you do it, you find that you feel better, and enjoy the rich flavors of a wide variety of veggies. Plus you get the powerful phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidents and anti-inflammatory benefits. Meat has none of those.

    Protein is an issue. How to get enough without a lot of meat? The answer is simple. Veggies have more protein per calorie then meat! Those considering becoming almost vegetarian ask- "you ask me to eat a salad and some broccoli for a meal? I'll starve!"

    That would not be a sufficiently satisfying or healthy enough meal. What I had to learn was make a large salad with all kinds of veggies, always add beans on top, and another cooked veggie on the side. Like a sweet potato. And very very easy on the dressing. This would be very anti-inflammatory, which again is your goal, to stop the body's need to use cholesterol for cell inflammation/damage repair.

    In the meal I just described, the sweet potato packs a LOT of anti-inflammation power. For example,

    fried chicken breast:
    1lb=230 calories, 11g of fat, 21g of complete protein
    anti-inflammation factor = -47 (midly inflammatory)
    vitamin completeness score = 30 (100 is complete), which is fair

    sweet potato:
    1 cup=180 calories, zero fat, 4g's of protein (incomplete)
    anti-inflammation factor = +378 (strongly anti-inflammatory!)
    vitamin completeness score = 65, twice the vitamins of chicken

    I'm comparing chicken to a sweet potato because the inflammation factor and fat content. Imagine if you substituted a sweet potato for your chicken. What would happen? I think your CH in 3 months would drop sharply! Am I I suggesting you do this? I know it would work, but I also know you are not likely to do it. I'm just make the point to demonstrate what it's going to take in diet if you want to lower your CH drastically. Eating sweet potatoes is very healthy- twice as healthy as chicken. Yet we think of chicken as a healthy protein. Yes it has complete protein but it comes at the cost of fat and calories. That's a high price to pay for lots of protein.

    I've never done body building but I do know that when it's excessive, it's not healthy for the body. Excessive exercise of any kind is not healthy for the body. Even cardio. So I always ask body builders- is the price to pay for the high fat meat protein calories worth the health risk of the extra CH and calories and excess protein? It's one thing to work out to maintain healthy muscles. It's another thing all together to work out to build muscle not for health, but for 'looks' or whatever vanity reason. There will be a 'health price' to pay for that excess.

    I suggest work outs only to maintain NORMAL and healthy body muscle. Because extra work outs to build muscle come at a health price. It's better to have muscle than fat. But it's not healthy to have extra muscle if it requires a diet of high fat/calories/protein.

    I think a Green Superfood supplement is ok, as long as it's not replacing whole foods in the diet. Only if used as a supplement. There are 100's of unknown but powerful phyto-nutrients in whole foods that peak at the time of cooking (cook veggies lightly) that even the best green supplements will not have. So always eat fresh whole foods (raw and lightly cooked) when at all possible- this means every meal!

    Now that I've changed to meals with fresh whole foods, like I described above (the salad, sweet potato, etc) I feel cheated when I don't eat this way. If I have a burger and fries, I get a fat/protein hit, but then I get that heavy feeling. And I miss the fullness of what I describe is a like a vitamin 'rush' in the healthier meal. It's like vitamins and nutrients are flooding the cells. I miss that when I now eat a standard meat meal.

    Do start taking your BP on a regular basis. I suggest a home BP auto kit. They are easy to use. Learn what good BP range is, and if out of normal range, take action. Again, diet helps keep BP normal.

    Yes- hot spices like jalapenos or habanero sauce are very good and highly anti-inflammatory! In fact, they are super anti-inflammatory. Always add to foods! excellent! However, they would not be sufficient to counter a lot of meat (fat) in the diet. Try to get meat to 10% of diet. And again, I suggest no chicken at all. It's not a healthy meat. Fish is very healthy- but only wild caught in Alaska, not farmed. Farmed fish is highly inflammatory. Wild deep Alaska fish is highly anti-inflammatory.

    I don't know about Naproxen.

    Hope you get that CH down. take care

    Last edited by easygoingguy; 06-01-2012 at 10:09 PM.

     
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