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PACAROLSUE SparkPoints: (4,521)
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5/11/14 8:10 P

I don't think there's anything wrong with seeking the opinions of others on the internet, as long as that is not the only basis for your final decision on which treatment you choose. When a doctor recommends a certain treatment, such as statins, that is their opinion, but the final choice is yours. My PCP and I have the understanding that he tells me what he thinks I should do. It goes on record that he told me, and if something goes wrong somewhere down the line I can't say he didn't tell me. It is his job to present the available options, but in the end, it is my body and my life and has to be my decision which choice to make. I research each med or procedure, see what the side effects or risks are.

My husband had a heart attack 21 years ago. At that time he refused taking Zocor. He never goes for check-ups and never had his lipids checked since. Maybe I should knock on wood, but so far he's fine. I didn't have a heart attack, but I had cardiac bypass surgery, I take all the meds my cardiologist prescribes, get check ups every 6 months and have had some stents over the past 6 years. Each person is different and has to make their own decisions.

Edited by: PACAROLSUE at: 5/11/2014 (20:11)
5/11/14 4:32 P

To the original poster: Be very careful about the advice you get on internet websites, including this one. No one here is qualified to give you advice on the efficacy of statins. I personally was on a statin drug for a few years and it worked great, with no side effects. But anecdotal evidence means nothing. Don't be offended because the doctor wanted to put you on statins. That's usually how high cholesterol is treated, especially for someone who apparently has hereditary high cholesterol. If you want, you can keep going to other MD's or DO's until someone tells you what you want to hear, but on the other hand, what's the point of seeking more medical care if you feel you already know what you need to do? The choices are yours alone, but don't be offended by the advice you get from someone who's doing what he or she believes is best, based on years training.

ALGEBRAGIRL Posts: 1,925
5/11/14 1:54 P

'I was not happy with the results and I am also a little upset that the doctor (a MD) wanted to just put me straight on meds even though I have never been tested before for my cholesterol.'

What are we talking about here? Life or death stuff? I don't know, in your case.

In this past year, I consulted dermatologists about a skin condition. I told one dermatologist, who seemed to think I was questioning his opinion, 'I'm concerned because this could potentially be melanoma and that makes it serious enough to die from!'

Last place I would look for answers would be internet opinions, BTW! The internet wouldn't be a 'second opinion' for me so I never went searching for websites with uploaded photos of dermatological conditions. I'm sure there are such websites and forums.

I finally found a dermatologist who not only took pictures of the condition, for future reference, She just recently had a follow-up visit with me and brought those pictures up on the screen in the examining room. Would someone else be more relaxed about this? It was my own family physician who said, 'I want you to have that looked at' and gave me my first referral. Was it life or death? I went to the funeral of an acquaintance who died of melanoma a few years ago and she was younger than I am. Tragic.

I'm aware that despite all my best and everyone else's intentions, my skin condition could still be bad, turn bad, and get worse. Such is life. You do the best you possibly can. I'd also add: with your insurance coverage.

Not trying to veer off track with a dermatology story, just sayin', I thought the stakes were high.

Putting someone on meds is a kind of knee-jerk reaction but it's an understandable one. This person who read your chemistry results had no previous information about your lipids. You had never been tested before for cholesterol and had reached the age of 55! What is the person looking at? What do they know about you, judging from your history? For example, do you have heart disease in your family - not that the lack of it is proof that you will never have problems, but that is a factor that doctors, who should know your history, will consider.

Worst case scenario: you have real problems that could potentially lead to something very bad - heart attack? Stoke?

So, what's at stake here, and who has the most insight into your health? Those are the huge questions - really, the only questions to consider, IMO. You can flatly refuse to deal with medical professionals (some people do) or keep looking until you find one you like, or whose advice you like.

A second opinion from a medical professional is a great option - open to everyone (unless you live in a small town with one doctor!) If you don't think your cholesterol is a problem, then don't sweat it - it's small stuff. If you do think it's a problem, it's your health. It's your life.

Edited by: ALGEBRAGIRL at: 5/11/2014 (13:56)
LADYSTARWIND SparkPoints: (85,090)
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5/11/14 12:04 A

Very Briefly....on the DO vs MD... so I will edit my statement to read that:
DO's are ""essentially the same"" as Licensed MD's in their Training, Licensure and Prescription authority... And I agree that DO's have "Manual Medicine Training Over 500 Hours" which MD's don't (usually).

But the discussion at hand wasn't pertaining to Manual methods of diagnosis or treatment...! I also know MD's who are licensed Acupuncturists...but that wasn't part of the discussion on statins either. LOL

In my experience with several DO's, they do not function any more "holistically" than the competant MD's I've been fortunate to work with. Perhaps I've been luckier than many with my MD's, or I've advocated for myself better than some.... One of our best friends is a DO, and I respect and trust her as much as any MD I've ever met!! E'nuf said...
patti :)

Edited by: LADYSTARWIND at: 5/11/2014 (00:17)
PACAROLSUE SparkPoints: (4,521)
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5/10/14 5:53 P

I didn't actually plan to stop the statins without discussing it with my cardiologist, but if I was sure I didn't want to continue it and he said to stay on it I would have no problem stopping it without his approval. I did that once with a different cholesterol med years ago. My PCP put me on it and I had side effects and I stopped it and told him I did. He said the side effects were not from the med but I knew they were. When I got the side effects, I quit taking the med for 1 week and the side effects went away. After a couple days back on the med, the side effect came back. I also quit taking thyroid meds because I could tell my thyroid was starting to go the other way. The doctor got mad that I stopped it, but he did further bloodwork and found out I was right.

I heard a rumor that my cardiologist is moving to a different hospital. If that is true, I will be switching to a different cardiologist. So I am going to make a note about the further tests you have recommended and keep them in mind for the future. Thank you.

EXOTEC Posts: 3,327
5/10/14 2:07 P

I would never just "stop" ANY therapy, even something I'm as adamant about as statins, without express approval of your healthcare provider. I would, however, do as much research into it as I could, and go to him/her with all your findings and advocate for your own health. They follow standardized guidelines, after all. We're the only ones implementing or even trying to implement any sort of truly personalized therapy.

What a great thing, your health journal! I wish everyone would keep one. It's the only really good way to impress (or influence) your doctors that you're not just flying blind, and that they need to deal with you on a higher level than to just sort-of hear you and write a script. Good job.

I think you're right about the fish oil and exercise, too. Both those things are pretty well documented to improve cardiovascular health. And carbs (all sugars, of which carbs are just a type) are truly bad things for health in general - and especially CV health. Fats and cholesterol are actually cardio*protective*. Especially in middle-to-older-aged women, and particularly those who haven't had an "event". Healthy saturated fats have gotten a bad rap. It's the trans fat that are the really horrific ones. We've finally gotten the news on that. Too little and too late for some... but we're improving, at least. Just don't throw out all the other good fats along with that one. But you're already getting that good info from your research. Good for you!

It seems to me I heard that the cinnamon they recommend is a different type too.. but I don't remember the details of that. I do take cinnamon in supplement form... I'm hoping it's the correct form, assuming there really is a difference. Now I've got to go recheck my resources! lol

If s/he's amenable... the next time you see your cardiologist ask if you can have either an NMR or VAP lipid panel. That fractionates out the various sorts of lipoproteins (cholesterols) in circulation, and gives a far better picture of your CV risk than just the basic TChol-HDL-LDL. If you can get a homocysteine level in there too, so much the better. I've read that it's a far better indicator of CV risk than the things we're currently testing for.

I'm so glad to see at least some of us are trying to take back, or at least be soundly entrenched in the loop, for our own health. Nobody will ever care about our health the way WE do. Good for you, and for me, and hopefully for anyone else with *any* sort of health concerns. After all, we're the ones most affected!

PACAROLSUE SparkPoints: (4,521)
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5/10/14 1:07 P

I am on a statin and would like to stop taking it, but I'm afraid of what might happen. I have heart disease, having had quadruple bypass surgery and several stents. No heart attacks, thank God! I have kept a record of my lipids in a little notebook since surgery in 2008. The biggest improvement I saw was when I started taking fish oil and exercised on a regular basis. I'm not sure which of those made the difference, probably a combination of the two. I think carbs are more of a culprit rather than cholestrol and fat. That's just my opinion from things I have read over time.

A woman I know around my age has type 1 diabetes and heart disease. She strictly follows the Dean Ornish diet which claims to reverse heart disease. Last I heard, she had her 5th heart attack. I'd like to tell her to try a different approach, but it's none of my business. She and her doctor think she is doing the right thing, even though it is not giving her the desired results.

Somewhere I read that the cinnamon they tell you to take is a different type of cinnamon than what you keep in your pantry. But they can say anything on the internet. If it's helping, keep it up!!

EXOTEC Posts: 3,327
5/10/14 10:01 A

Absolutely, RICK. If you read the studies and reports on statins they're just scary.
And yes, there are a lot of different kinds of "cholesterols" and lipoproteins floating around in our circulatory systems. The standard chem panels don't tell you any of that - but you CAN get those discrete values on either an NMR or VAP lipid profile. Homocysteine is also a good assay for CV risk. If our doctors will order any of those, it's well worthwhile monitoring them.

And DOs are *not* MDs. They are similar to, but not the same. DOs have a slightly more holistic approach than MDs... although they both go through pre-med and much of their educational lives side-by-side. They're both doctors, if that's what you meant by that statement. But they are definitely not interchangeably the same. And chiropractors are further down that categorization, too. For reference:

I'd by far prefer a DO to an MD in most cases. Not that that guarantees superiority of care - just that there's a bit more background for DOs which might prove to my benefit. I'm willing to take any little advantage I can get. Even so, with the medical community what it is these days, you can't simply put yourself blindly in ANYone's hands. If you're not actively involved and advocating for your own health, well.... you shortchange yourself. *Always* follow your doctor's advice - you're paying him/her for that, in any case! - but don't abandon yourself to them wholly. Be wise, educate yourself.

Especially about statins, and especially about other effects of any med you're prescribed.

Edited by: EXOTEC at: 5/10/2014 (10:15)
RICKTHEBIKER SparkPoints: (698)
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5/9/14 11:11 A

OK, here is the thing. Specifically and forcefully ask your doctor to provide the evidence that statins do anything (anything at all) for middle-aged women. Really. He will not find a single peer-reviewed study that does that has every been taken seriously by the scientific community. No reduction in strokes, no reduction in heart attacks, no reduction in any cardio-related events, no reduction in cancer....nothing. It will lower your LDL, but for no benefit other than having a better number in your records and I risk of side effects.

Statins are a godsend for middle-aged men who have previously had heart attacks. Really. There is no evidence that I have seen that they help any other group of people (including non-heart attack middle-aged men!). I believe that there is some evidence that the off-target anti-inflammatory affects might be helpful, but not enough to be above placebo affect.

And congratulations on that good HDL level! Keep up the good work.

Edit...there are several kinds of LDL cholesterol out there and they are very different as an indicator of health. The big (fluffy) LDL is good to have while the tiny little LDL particles are thought to be bad. But, since they don't measure the difference, you could be walking around with a powerhouse of really good LDL and still look high. We don't measure the right things and then we treat people when the wrong indicators are out of some norm with no other indication of disease.

Edited by: RICKTHEBIKER at: 5/9/2014 (11:16)
LADYSTARWIND SparkPoints: (85,090)
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5/9/14 1:29 A state: " Luckily, my husbands doctor has had him on a low cholesterol diet for a couple months now so we are both watching what we eat."

But your levels are STILL high?! It would seem you've tried a diet change already, so indeed in your case, diet changes might not be enough....! (Unless you weren't eating the same way your husband was...??)

In my own case, diet changes did not get me the result levels I am more comfortable with.; so I am on a low level of statin, with no side effects. Remember...Everyone Is Different...and not all of us react the same!!

Best of luck finding what works for you...and deciding what levels you are comfortable with vs diet vs meds.....

PS..In my case, my DO handled this the same as the MD I had before I moved! DO's ARE licensed MD's after all.....

Edited by: LADYSTARWIND at: 5/9/2014 (01:30)
KOALA_BEAR SparkPoints: (18,475)
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5/8/14 11:10 P

My hubby was prescribed stains about 12 years ago due not so much high cholesterol but his family history. His dad died at 39 from a heart attack then both his mom and brother had HA less than six months apart. His brother also had a quadruple bypass but it was poor diet - lots of rich foods.

So after about a year or so hubby would keep mentioning various aches and pains. I said you don't need that stuff. We discussed on & off for 6-8 months. He was always sore. I persisted in stating that stuff is poison.

Finally he agreed to tell the no more Rx. I put him on cinnamon - 1/2 tsp, 1 T apple cider vinegar, 1 fish oil cap (1000 to 1200 IU) & 1 garlic tab (450mg) daily. All the pains were gone in less than a month and his check ups have been fairly good - last one was 186 and as long as it stays under 200 he is fine. The doctor, an internist, asked what he was doing and we told him. Now the doc just wants to know is he keeping up the regime. Turns out I was right - don't take the statins until you've tried diet and the natural remedies.

Of course his cholesterol was not high just above normal and not life threatening except due to genetics. My own cholesterol is below 100 so I don't take those items myself. Diet and exercise are both key to keeping the balance between low and high readings.

ALMISSE SparkPoints: (27,250)
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5/8/14 4:35 P

Thanks SparkGirl. emoticon

5/8/14 2:39 P

I believe in your 20's you should have it checked - but not more than once every 5 years.

MARTHA324 Posts: 6,303
5/8/14 2:26 P

Don't mess with cholesterol. I was on statins (low dose) AND had lost 50 pounds, AND walked every day AND had borderline high cholesterol with very high HDL and still I had a heart attack in Feb. 2013. fortunately a "small"one with no damage. I religiously take my Crestor.

From what I read diet can only do so much. If you can get yours down to the low levels, more power to you.

Edited by: MARTHA324 at: 5/8/2014 (14:26)
ALMISSE SparkPoints: (27,250)
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5/8/14 1:16 P

While I don't think my cholesterol would be bad, I am curious as to when most people start getting theirs checked. I mean, I'm only twenty three, and my weight is healthy. Plus my doctor hasn't brought it up, but she does sometimes forget routine things that people should get done. I know it's one of those things that become something to look at as you age, just not sure around what age is the right time to keep track of it.

MISSSVJS SparkPoints: (41,675)
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5/8/14 12:04 P

I totally agree with EXOTEC regarding refusing statins - my cholesterol is high in spite of my healthy diet, exercise regimen, taking specific supplements (red yeast rice, CoQ10, etc.) and being at a healthy weight. Mine is genetics - something I can't change, but I absolutely refuse statins because I believe they are more dangerous than cholesterol. I personally believe that eventually it's going to be accepted that high cholesterol is not necessarily a precursor for heart disease or a direct cause of heart attacks. In fact, there is evidence that as a person ages they have a need for higher cholesterol as it aids brain function - it's also okay for older people to have blood pressure readings that are a bit higher than the "norm" because as we age our blood vessels get "stiffer." Consuming healthy fats does not cause cholesterol to form in our bodies but diets high in carbsand sugar (and sugar is what is usually added to low-fat foods to replace the fat) do.

Think about it - when the so-called experts started advocating a diet low in fat and high in grains what happened to us - we started becoming obese, type 2 diabetes and heart disease increased exponentially! I remember watching an old newsreel of the JFK assassination - the shot was of the crowd of people waiting outside of the hospital where JFK was taken after he was shot. Something stood out to me while watching that video - very few people in that crowd were overweight. Contrast that with today and envision a similar crowd - I think you would find that the majority of people in the crowd would be overweight with a number of them being obese. Yet many nutrition "experts" still advocate eating a diet low in fat and high in carbs/grains.

EXOTEC Posts: 3,327
5/8/14 11:38 A

That article is wonderful. Anyone with concerns for saturated fats and/or cholesterol would do well to read it.

Recent studies show that higher TChol in women (middle-to-older) is actually cardioprotective. The most cardiovascular events occur in those with LOW TChol, or *excessively* high values. But you weren't talking about TChol, you were talking about HDL. Can you get your doctor to order a NMR or VAP lipid profile? Those results give a far better assessment of health and risk than a spot-point of one test. Also, homocysteine has been shown to be a better predictor of cardiovascular health than the cholesterols (which don't stand up very well to risk assessments, despite the reliance still attributed to them).

Cutting out any processed foods will help, including sugars and carbs. Whole foods feed us healthily. Healthy, saturated animal fats (yes) are good for us. Lots of veggies are good for us. Meat is fine, so long as it's not your primary source of nutrition! eat meats and seafood, and lots of real, whole eggs. Any of that is best if you can get it pastured or wild-caught (seafood).

I don't usually promote exercise here, because this tends to be a weight-loss site, and exercise hasn't been shown to be a primary tool for that. However, it is an excellent method for improving cardiovascular health - and it doesn't have to be strenuous. Just get out and move more. Get up more. Walk. Garden. Park farther from the stores instead of right at the door. If you do exercise routines, do short bursts of intense exercise instead of prolonged versions.

Whatever you do... well, I would say DO *NOT* let anybody put you on a statin! But I won't contradict your healthcare provider's advice. I will strongly admonish you to go on a diligent info search into the side effects and deleterious health effects of those drugs, though. They're scary. In some cases, it seems the "cure" is far worse than the symptom(s).

You truly can improve your health, cardiovascular and every other aspect, with proper nutrition. One who has done so with excellent results is RUSSELL_40. Look up some of his posts and blogs. There are several others (who I don't intend to slight! - I need to make a list! LOL) who have similarly successful outcomes. Please consider these things before you let the pharmaceutical industry (through the medical community) push you into something which supports little more than their stockholders' aims.

You can do it.

MISSSVJS SparkPoints: (41,675)
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5/7/14 4:56 P

There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal this week entitled "The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease."
Low fat diets don't necessarily help us lower cholesterol. Eating a diet rich in good healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, organic virgin coconut oil, grassfed butter/ghee (but avoid margarine, canola oil, soybean oil and other vegetable oils), good quality protein (grassfed meats, free range poultry, wild-caught fish and seafood) can actually help lower cholesterol. We've been lied to for about 50 years that low fat diets are healthy - they aren't. Diets rich in these good fats along with organic eggs, full fat dairy (if you can tolerate dairy - many can't), good fresh vegetables and fruits will likely do more to help you lower your cholesterol than low-fat, low cholesterol. Also, cholesterol in food does not equate to cholesterol in the body. As this article states, "Our half-centry effort to cut back on the consumption of meat, eggs and whole-fat dairy has a tragic quality. More than a billion dollars has been spent trying to prove Ancel Key's hypothesis, but evidence of its benefits has never been producted. It is time to put the saturated-fat hypothesis to bed. . . ."

IMDADOGGIE SparkPoints: (42,022)
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5/7/14 4:04 P

Taking fish oil capsules and flax seed oil got mine done quickly along with healthy eating like oatmeal, and veggies. Limit your sugars too like soda or breads and that will help more than your think. I did just like you and I told my doctor I would not go on meds and 4 weeks later it was great. Adding exercise will also drop it. Good luck!

P.S. if you do add the fish oil and you have never used them I recommend using the burpless kind to at least start because you won't like them if you don't!

Edited by: IMDADOGGIE at: 5/7/2014 (16:05)
RENATARUNS SparkPoints: (4,367)
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5/7/14 3:23 P

You don't specify your weight, but losing any excess you may have should help some all by itself, as should increasing your exercise. This is aside from changing what foods you eat. In that regard mileage seems to vary, though cutting out (or way down on) junk food is never a bad idea and will probably help some too.

There is a poster here who vastly improved his cholesterol numbers through a low carb/high fat diet; my mother did it a few years ago through all but eliminating saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, and increasing vegetables. (She was already at normal weight; the poster I refer to lost a whole lot.) Almost literally the only thing they have in common besides a decent amount of exercise is the lack of junk food and abundance of veggies.

You can do a lot in four months. Best of luck. Statins can be nasty.

5/7/14 1:39 P

Thanks everyone!

CERTHIA SparkPoints: (22,539)
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5/7/14 11:45 A

Good luck with making changes in your diet. I'm sure you will be healthier for it, even if it does not lower your cholesterol sufficiently to avoid statins.

After a visit to his doc my father got a huge scare similar to yours concerning his cholesterol and blood pressure. Soon after he made major changes. His diet used to be very rich in sugars/starches, sodium, dairy and fatty meats. A typical western diet of mainly processed foods. Now he enjoys eating a huge variety of fish, lean meats, nuts, seeds and lots and lots of vegetables. His cholesterol, sadly, is still high, but at least he eats a much healthier diet now, and his blood pressure has improved.

I also think its sounds like your MD was quick to prescribe medication, but I guess all MDs will practice what they believe is best.

LAURELTOO SparkPoints: (564)
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5/7/14 11:45 A

a mostly plant and fish diet keeps my husbands cholesterol down fine. They had him on all kinds of meds (and statins have serious side effects in some cases) and he was miserable. I don't know what a DO is but after a terrible issue with an MD overprescribing I don't go to a doctor anymore, so maybe I should look into it.

MNNICE Posts: 17,741
5/7/14 11:36 A

The first time I had mine checked I had already lost 50 pounds and had been exercising and eating healthy for over 2 years -- yet my cholesterol well over 200. (I would hate to know what it had been before that!) So definitely give it a try, but keep an open to medication. Hoping you have good results!

5/7/14 11:29 A

Probably because you are at a good weight and still have it in the high range. Changing your diet will help but probably won't put you in the healthy range.

My mother died just weeks after her 50th birthday from atherosclerosis. She weighed about 130, ran 5 miles a day and was outwardly at the peek of health. Her cholesterol was borderline high and she was eating lean meats and vegetables and was tracking what she ate.

maybe more aggressive treatment would have saved her life.

5/7/14 10:59 A

I am a 55 year old female, I am 5'5" and about 146 pounds, and for the first time in my life a doctor (well, a NP rather) suggested I get a full blood workup. Well, the results came back, everything was fine except my LDL cholesterol, it came back as 186 and my HDL was 46. They wanted to stick me on statins right away but I asked if I could try a diet first, and they said to try the diet for 4 months but they don't think it will lower it since it is genetics. Luckily, my husbands doctor has had him on a low cholesterol diet for a couple months now so we are both watching what we eat.

I was not happy with the results and I am also a little upset that the doctor (a MD) wanted to just put me straight on meds even though I have never been tested before for my cholesterol. A friend of mine who works for a doctor (a DO) said that that doctor ALWAYS puts her patients with high cholesterol on a low-fat low-cholesterol for so many months then if it does not go down then she does the meds. But at least she doesn't just jump right to the meds right off the bat. Makes me think of changing from a MD to a DO.

Mom of Spice Girl

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