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High Cholesterol Message Board

High Cholesterol Board Index

Re: Please help
Mar 11, 2003
Hi Annie,

It is possible to try exercise first. I think the reason most doctors want to throw pills at you from the start is that most people quite simply are not going to make a concerted effort to change.

Anyway, if I were in your place (actually I was a year ago), I would do the following to affect that lipid profile and other aspects:

The first priority is the chest discomfort, if there is a problem something needs to be done. You said a regular stress test came back negative, so did mine. My nuclear (the Tc-99 2nd injection) showed two areas of ischemia. Anyway, if you can afford it, do it.

Back to the lipid profile. Your triglycerides are substantially high at 272 mg/dL. You really want this below 150 mg/dL. The way to affect this in a positive manner is by reducing your carbohydrate intake and reducing weight if you have some extra to lose. If you achieve your weight loss by both dietary and exercise changes, then your LDL should drop, HDL rise a bit, and triglycerides drop. The net result will be a lower total cholesterol, reduction of various independent risk factors, and much improved ratios of TG/HDL, LDL/HDL, and Total/HDL.

How would I do it? (How did I do it is more appropriate...)

1. Cease tobacco use. Tobacco use has some linkage to decreased HDL. I quit tobacco March 15, 2002 and have never looked back. I was a slave to it for almost 20 years. I am much much happier now.

2. Exercise. I can't stress this enough. After five years of sedentary lifestyle (I mean the only exercise was the short walk from where I park my car into my office), I started to exercise on March 20, 2002. I walked 15 min/day for the first week. Then 20 min the next, then 30, finally at 60 min, which I kept up for about 6 months. I tried short bursts of running in between,but noticed angina, so I needed a 2nd stent. Anyway, after I got back out, I started with 1 min jogging/1 min walk segments and increased the frequency. The last 3 months, I have been running daily for 30 min.

3. Weight loss. I was 227 lbs a year ago. I am now 163 lbs. Diet and exercise---could not have done it without both. I neglected to mention, I was diagnosed with type II diabetes in Nov 2000. I needed Amaryl orally to control my sugar level. I no longer need any medication, I no longer go above 120 mg/dL glucose at all post-prandial. I can get away with eating dessert whenever I wish, but I don't abuse this "benefit" of my new lifestyle.

4. Diet. Here is where you are probably looking for guidance. In this case, I don't really follow any single plan. While in the hospital I had a few days from work to devote to studying healthy diets and many books. One informative one was by Andrew Weil, entitled the "Okinawa Diet." Of course, Dean Ornish's book is also a great source. I knew I was taking in well over 65 g fat daily, and it was closer to double that on most days. I first aimed to reduce fats, especially saturated fats and products with trans fats. Once I was comfortable with the weight loss progress, I incorporated some fats back in, but mainly monounsaturated fats with polyunsaturated fats. Soy products are great sources for these kinds of fats (as are nuts, canola oil, olive oil...). I greatly increased my intake of vegetables. When I fill my plate at dinner, I have no more than 4 oz of meat, about the same size of carbs (roll or rice) and the balance vegetables plus a salad. I eat salmon twice per week, chicken once, and a free night on the 4th, which can be pork, chicken or fish. I have lost all desire for red meat. The other 3 nights are vegetarian, where I use alternative protein sources. I tend to eat tofu or beans as my staple on those evenings.

Reduction of carbs...that will help your triglycerides. We all need some, and I try to (not always succeed...) eat mostly complex carbohydrates. You can also get some carbs from vegetables.

Finally, its important to remember to treat yourself from time to time. I go out every Friday night to the restaurant of my choice and eat whatever I want. Whats curious is that you will find that with your lifestyle change, if you are like me, what you want when out at a restaurant will change. You will be selecting much more healthy items than in the past.
Not only that, but you must might (I sure do) feel alot younger again from the lifestyle change.

I am only a little younger than you (36). I had my heart attack last year at age 35. I have had cholesterol near 300 for many years prior to that, with triglycerides at 400 plus. Even with diabetes and my triglycerides controlled by Tricor, my total cholesterol was still 200 and my HDL was a meager 25 mg/dL. (LDL was around 150 mg/dL). With all the changes I described above, my last lipid profile came out as: Total 102, LDL 51, TG 34, HDL 44.

In edit: I no longer take tricor, no longer need 2 of the 3 meds to control my blood pressure, and have never needed to take lipitor nor do I take any statins now.

[This message has been edited by ubernier (edited 03-11-2003).]

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