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cholesterol !!!
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cholesterol !!!

Hello, I have a question for you.

A year ago I had my cholesterol checked.

At the time my total cholesterol was 277, LDL was 171 and my HDL was 36. Triglycerides 262 Glucose 106. I was obese, at 6 ft 300 pounds.

For the past two and a half months I've been eating really healthy (low saturated fat, vegetables, whoe grain) and exercising. Now I weight 275 pounds. It's just a start, but it's a strong start for only two and a half months.

A couple days ago I had my cholesterol checked again. (A year after the last one, however I've only been dieting and exercising for the past two and half months.)

My total cholesterol was 117, LDL was 97, HDL 28, triglycerides 117, glucose 90

Okay, I have two questions.

1) Does this change seem possible? I've only been dieting two and a half months of the past year, and only weight 25 pounds less than the first time I got checked. Could my LDL have come down THAT much? I called the lab where it was done and they assured me they didn't mix me up with another patient, and they assured me their lab machines were working properly. My dad, an internist for 30 years, says he is suspicious of such a drastic change in the numbers, saying he's never seen something like that in his 30 year practice. Do you agree with my dad that I should get it checked again to verify the numbers? Well, Im sure you'll agree there's no harm in getting it checked again, so I guess my question is, do you think it's possible these numbers are right?

More important question...

2) With regards to my HDL being so low:
   What can I do? If I continue to lose weight and exercise and eat a good diet, lose the "abdominal obesity" altogether, and get my cholesterol checked again, should the HDL be up at that point? Is there any way to get it to normal levels if it's under normal levels? My dad says there is not. He says I might be able to get it up a couple points with exercise and diet and being thin and lean, but if it's still low, there's nothing that can be done. That's kind of scary to me. Your thoughts? Are there ways that maybe you know of that my dad hasn't heard of that can get HDL up to at least close-to-normal levels if diet and exercise and body shape isn't enough?

Thanks, Adam in California
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To answer your questions:
1) It is possible with a drastic change in diet to lower the LDL that much.  That being said, repeating the test wouldn't be a bad idea to ensure that is the right reading.  

2) Exercise and weight loss are keys to raising the HDL level.  In terms of medication, Niacin has been shown to raise HDL levels, and can be considered if the HDL persistantly stays low.    There are experimental medications that are in trials that can raise the HDL level, but until they come to fruition, Niacin would be the safest consideration.  

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Kevin, M.D.
Medical Weblog:
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