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Is abnormally low cholesterol a health problem?

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Old 11-11-2012, 02:25 AM   #1
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Is abnormally low cholesterol a health problem?

Five years ago, I was overweight, inactive, and all my cholesterol numbers were into the 'borderline high' range (Total 246 LDL 169 Trigylcerides 174 HDL 40). My doctor read me the riot act and I finally took it to heart and made some lifestyles changes after 20 years of not caring much about my health.

Fast-forward to 2012. I've lost over 50 pounds, eat much healthier and exercise regularly and my cholesterol numbers had dropped significantly (Total 156 LDL 93 Triglycerides 64 HDL 50).

At the recommendation of my doctor, I went and got a 'Cardiac Calcium Test', and while the score was relatively low (64), it put me into the 75th+ percentile for my age and showed incipient buildup in several coronary arteries. A followup carotid artery ultrasound showed buildup there as well; small, but noticeable. I have recently had the full Nuclear Treadmill Stress test and am awaiting the results of that.

Despite my good health and solid cholesterol numbers, my doctor has started me on statins (lovastatin 20mg). I've also started taking CoQ10 on his recommendation. He wanted to drop my LDL below 70. My cardiologist has also told me that having a sub-70 LDL can potentially reverse the buildup I currently have (which sounded great to me).

While I was frustrated with this (the whole point of making lifestyle changes was to avoid having to take medication), I've listened to him and followed all his directions, though I don't understand why I'm being put on statins now and not 5 years ago when my cholesterol was much worse.

After six weeks on statins, I did a followup test (to make sure I wasn't one of the 2-3% that have liver problems due to the statin). The new numbers were so low that it is honestly disconcerting to me (Total 118 LDL 66 Triglycerides 57 HDL 40). That is a dramatic change after only 6 weeks and makes me wonder if those numbers will continue to drop and whether or not it could be a health risk.

While there is a lot of info on high cholesterol, there is very little on low cholesterol. What little I found made it seem that low cholesterol is actually statistically more dangerous than normal cholesterol. It is linked to mental health issues (depression and increased suicides) and hemorrhagic stroke, but noone seems to know why. The depression angle issue is something that worries me as I've struggled with being bi-polar my entire life and have been diagnosed with Asberger's.

Objectively, I feel fantastic and am in the best shape of my adult life. The numbers worry me, though (sometimes too much info is a bad thing!), so I thought I'd reach out to get some additional input.

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Old 11-12-2012, 12:51 PM   #2
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Re: Is abnormally low cholesterol a health problem?

I tend to agree with what you've found about "low" cholesterol numbers. It is potentially more harmful than "high" cholesterol. Low cholesterol numbers have also been linked to cancer. Some studies show that healthy elderly persons in their 80's and 90's usually have higher cholesterol numbers. I think you've done a great job on your own and don't see the need to overdo it with more medications. Take care

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