I have initial signs of left common carotid artery (LCCA) plaque build up: 50% stenosis but with as yet normal blood flow.
My lipid profile (cholestrol/hdl/ldl/triglycerides) is "borderline" -- not bad, not great. I eat low fat, lots of fresh veggies & fruit and exercise regularly. I'm also on fish oil supplements, but I am postponing going on statins for the time being, owing to concerns about their side effects (liver, muscle, kidney, etc.)
I'm planning an itinerary in a region in China (Yunnan) with a lot of high altitudes, mostly at 3300m ( about 11,000 ft) but there's one location that's as high as 5500m (18,000 ft).
Given my condition, what would be safe altitude to minimize a heightened risk of TIA's or worse till, stroke?
If I do go to these altitudes, what precautions should I take?
Advice would be appreciated as soon as possible, as I need to make bookings or plan otherwise.
A carotid stenosis is not felt to be significant until it reaches 70% or so, therefore I would say that a stenosis of 50% should not present an undue risk of TIA or stroke at altitude. However you are proposing travel to altitudes where ill effects can occur, and I would suggest seeing your physician for a physical before travelling.
On a side note, statins are some of the best tolerated, and safest, drugs available. As they are frequently prescribed, the number of people on them is large and therefore side-effects can make headlines more often than reflects the true safety profile of these agents. If diet and excercise do not keep your lipid profile within recommended limits, it would be wise to consider statin therapy in conjunction with your doctor.
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