Folks: I'd love some suggestions. Here is my brief story.
I'm 40, male, 6'0" 178 lbs. Resting Pulse 60, never had high blood pressure and have it checked frequently when I donate blood. It's often 110/60. I do not smoke, don't drink alcohol, don't even drink sugar drinks (cola, fruit juice, etc). It's just water for me. I have no family history of heart disease. My father is 74 and healthy as an ox; mother is healthy too but has suffered from high cholesterol her entire life. In fact, her mother had 250+, ate very little meat for an old lady and and died of a stomach aneurism at 88. She suffered from high cholesterol her entire life but never did a thing about it since that wasn't an issue during her lifetime.
I eat very well and have for the past 5 years. Meaning very little red meat--if only once or twice a month. I eat Salmon or other fish once or twice a week. I drink 1% or skim milk, eat only whole wheat bread (real whole wheat). I avoid eggs, fried food and very little ice cream (which kills me). Thanks to a great, loving wife, at our house we eat homemade meals almost every night and our breakfast is often a whole grain pancake breakfast. She is a wise cook and we seldom ever use butter (big on olive oil and canola oil) with lots of veggies and fruits. I probably eat 4 to 5 servincs of fruit and veggies a day.
As can be seen below, I've taken my cholesterol seriously. Here is my detailed record over the past 10 years (yes, I'm an accountant and keep a spreadsheet). Legend: No ='no statins', 20mg and 10= generic statin as per my Doc.
No No N0 20mg 20mg 20mg No 10Mg 20MG
Age 27 36 36 37 37 38* 39 39 40
Total 218 264 262 180 210 142 239 191 188
HDL 40 42.9 40 40 45 36 47 51 47
Ratio 5.45 6.15 6.55 4.50 4.59 4.59 5.09 3.75 4.00
LDL 160.2 184.9 180 111 129 76 172 119 111
Tri 89 181 211 144 176 151 101 106 151
Clearly statins have helped me. Note that at 38 I lost 12 lbs by being even more strict on my diet and exercise. You should know that I'm an active Dad of 5 kids and do my own yard work, ski in the winter and coach sports when I can. While I have a desk job during the day, I'm always moving. Not till this past month have I kept a full exercise regimen. If I'm 178 at 6 feet tal and not a regular gym rat, I'm obviously moving or eating right.
Now to my concern. I only recently stopped taking my statins (without talking to my Doc yet). I did this about 2 months ago (I'll be 41 in 1 month and ready for my next physical. Yes, I get an annual physical). I stopped because for the past year I've felt an odd cramp/pain in the top of my right foot. It would come and go at the strangest time (at night in bed or while working). Since stopping the statins the cramp has all but left me. It did take about 2 weeks for it to completely die down but haven't felt it in about a month.
I do worry my LDLs will go back up without the drug. So, I'm trying this as of this week:
1200 mg Fish Oil, once a day.
Men's Multivitamin and mineral supplement (twice daily)
1200 mg Red Yeast Rice, twice a day
100 mg Active CoQ10 (Qunol).
Would you guys suggest I get my blood drawn BEFORE I take the above to level set myself again, or just stick to the above and wait one month to see how I do? Keep in mind I am on a regular exercise schedule of 20 miles of mountain biking a week (3 rides of 40 min a week with LOTS of climbing).
It sounds like you are doing everything right. Good job!
The red yeast rice you mention is actually a statin, and in some people it can have the same side effects as statins. In my country it's only sold as a prescription drug, but I know several countries allow it as a dietary or nutrition supplement. The problem is, the amount of the active substance may vary from brand to brand, and from batch to batch. It's hard to say for sure what dose you actually are taking.
Regarding cholesterol: I don't know what the guidelines are in your country, but in mine, cholesterol is considered a risk factor and seen together with blood pressure, if diabetes is present, family history, CRP, smoking, weight, activity, etc. Unless the cholesterol is very high or the ratio is very wrong, it's not treated in the absence of other risk factors. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that drugs are free here (paid by the government), I can't say for sure. I used to have cholesterol levels of approx. 230/160/40 but they are lower now, because my lifestyle is healthier.
The problem is, no one can say for sure if a slightly elevated cholesterol will be problematic in the future or not. In most people it will not, but no one can tell if you are one of those troubled by it or not. The same goes for other risk factors like blood pressure. Most people will tolerate a slightly elevated blood pressure just fine, but some will not, and it's hard to identify them.
We can't provide any advice, but if you decide not to take statins, there are tests you can do to determine your cardiovascular risk. An ultrasound of the carotid arteries is cheap and very reliable to detect beginning plaque in the arteries. So is a calcium score test (CT of the heart) but that will expose you to some radiation. An ultrasound will not.
By the way, thank you for a very detailed and interesting post. If you have other questions regarding cholesterol, blood pressure or heart disease, feel free to ask. And I hope other members will share their opinion too.
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