13 messages
04/07/2008 at 09:26
Does anyone know how cholesterol levels work? I had a NON FASTING check three weeks ago...result 5.6 and therefore probably a bit high. I do not want statins unless absolutely necessary so I requested a FASTING check. That morning, after fasting for over 12 hours, I did run for 45 minutes. Got result of that check yesterday....cholesterol 6.1!!!! I am so fed up....I eat sensibly (i know diet makes little difference) and the only thing I can put it down to is starting a new job and feel ing very stressed. Also I know that exercise raises HDL but is that absolutely or in relation to LDL??Needless to say, my BP was also really high when I got result.... I have BMI of 19 and am really fit...does not seem fair! I DONT want to take medication!!
04/07/2008 at 09:36
bev - unfortunately cholesterol levels don't vary enormously over a period of time, or are effected so much by fasting like other blood parameters...........they elevate over a period of time due to a number of reasons the most important being diet and genetic factors

your cholesterol comes from 2 sources - diet and metabolism - the body makes it's own cholesterol.

high cholesterol diets will lead to elevated blood levels - this is well known so dietary control can help reduce levels for many

but the genetic factor can also lead to elevated levels and you can be the skinniest person around with the best diet but if you are unfortunate to have inhereted this genetic malfunction (or worse - the gene from both parents) then this will lead to elevated cholsterol to an extent that it can kill - hypercholesterolaemia is often the cause of sudden heart attacks in young men as they are often not aware of this genetic issue.

statins work by blocking cholesterol production and combining this with diet control will bring the levels to a better if you are offered them, don't ignore them

you need to find out why you have elevated levels if they are not diet related - is there a history of heart disease in your family??

diet and exercise work for most - but those with the genetic issue do need statins to reduce the levels. statins are pretty safe pharmacologically - the government are now talking about making them availabel to all men over 50 free as a daily dose to reduce the high levels of heart disease in the UK - that's how safe they are now regarded

you need to get professional advice from your GP as to what next
Edited: 04/07/2008 at 09:41
04/07/2008 at 10:26
I fully sympathise - I'm awaiting my own cholesterol results.  I too have no wish to take statins as anything that is works has side effects, one of which can be loss of muscle strength.  Also most of the research on heart disease uses the male model and there are physiological differences between the sexes, one of those being that females can safely have higher levels of chlolesterol than males, pre- menopause that is. 
04/07/2008 at 10:36
bear - yes, you're right - most cholesterol issues relate to males rather than females and as you say, it tends only to become an issue with females post-menopause.........
04/07/2008 at 11:15
I was in the same boat as you, bev, reading of 6.3, didn't want statins.  It is in my family, my dad has it and so do my 4 brothers, couple have taken statins.  As my bp was good I asked the doc could I work on getting it down myself.  He agreed and after 6 months of eating benecol products and cutting out problem foods, I did get it down to 4.6.  I am now also waiting for my recent results and feel its possible it may creep up again.  Good luck with yours and give foods with statins in a try, cut out cheese, groan, prawns, another groan, eggs and so on.
04/07/2008 at 11:47

Bev - you won't need medication.

Misinformation abounds on this subject. There is a vast amount of money on the line here, either spent on drugs, saved by preventing heart disease and stroke or boosting share prices, depending on your point of view. 

So :

1. You don't  need statins just to reduce your cholesterol. You might use them to cut your risk of vascular disease - but this is not the same thing. Many factors ~(blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, weight, family history etc) go into this risk, but cholesterol is one which we can influence, so has the spot light on it.

2. Controlling other risk factors is just as helpful as controlling your cholesterol - so getting fitter, eating properly, stopping smoking etc.

3. The latest guidelines from NICE]NICE[/url] remind us that you should be offered a  statin if your risk of vascular disease is over 20% in the next ten years. To evaluate this we need your BP, height/weight, family history etc as well as your cholesterol profile - unless your cholesterol is spectacularly high (8 or above despite low fat diet).

Bev - women are at lower risk than men. In my experience it's nigh on impossible for an otherwise healthy slim woman to have a 20% risk with a cholesterol around 6, unless it runs right through your family. I would be surprised if it even reaches double figures. You aren't going to need treatment.

You would always have a lower risk with a lower cholesterol, no matter your starting point, but personally I'm not about to live on celery just to get my cholesterol down from 5.3 to 5.1 (for example - no idea what my cholesterol is because I have never measured it).

04/07/2008 at 12:23
Misinformation abounds on this subject.

quite right

Bev - one thing that perhaps doesn't help is to get stressed about it as you are a) fit, b) female and c) have not too bad a cholesterol level (higher than recommended but not that far off). stress could play havoc with the BP which is clearly not good for anyone.

maybe you need to look into the causes of this stress - you mention a new job - and focus on reducing that rather than over-worry about your cholesterol level
04/07/2008 at 14:28

Recently, medics have been placing more importance on reading the ratio between HDL and LDL (bad and good cholesterol) rather than the mere composit of all lipids in our blood.

with levels of 5.5 and good ratio showing the good cholesterol dominance over the bad one there is no need to take any statins.

women hormones before and around menopause tend to play a big factor in elevating the levels of cholesterol.

Stressalso  plays a big role in BP fluctuation.

 A sensible diet, exercise, and the use of plant sterol will certainly lower the level you have.

04/07/2008 at 18:15

Thanks guys! All good advice and I feel less panicked! However I am still very curious as to why a NON fasting test on 16/6 result was 5.6 and a fasting test on 26/06 was 6.1 . Thats why i wondered about stress and/or the run before the second test......

Also, what are plant sterols??


04/07/2008 at 18:34

Plant sterols or stenol are cholesterol-lowering products.  They inhibit its absorption.

They can be found in Pro-Activ and Benecol as spreads and drinks.

Also oatmeal (porridge) is highly recommended for reducing the cholesterol level.

Your daily food intake should include both, ideally.

As for the discrepency in the results within a short gap between both of them, this is not an indicator that your cholesterol level jumped within one week. It takes much longer than a week for this increase to happen.

If this level is maintained but the ratio of the good cholesterol vs the bad one is doubled, I think you have nothing to panick about.

Keep a check every 6 months and if the levels get higher and you have a genetic predisposition, statins or similar should the other option.

18/08/2008 at 22:20

I know this is over a month later but would like to add my bit from experience.

Statins are damaging over long term use, i took them for 10 years suffering a lot of leg pains and cramps but never guessing these may be the cause. Then one day i started getting  a red rash over my arms and legs which was very painful it would not go away no matter what i put on it, The Gp then recommended i had a blood test to test for Muscle enzymes in my blood. I was advised i had very high levels and was suffering from (excuse the spelling) Dermatomyositis and must stop taking Statins immediately. I was advised this could of lead to kidney failure in the long term. I stopped and the problem went away so be warned.     

19/08/2008 at 09:42


I tried cutting out completly caffine and salt...we didn't use much salt to be honest and have never eaten much in the way of processed foods high in salt, the caffine was tough as it gave me a stonking head ache for a i just use de-caff....(not as nice) but after 12 months the blood pressure was exactly the same. lost some wieght and this also made no difference.

I was in the same boat as you....I am 38 into running and cycle a bike to work, completed the silverstone half this year in 1:42 but after using a 24hr blood pressure monitor over night was put on the above medication,

for the past 5+ years my blood pressures been about 143/92 ish....

after being on the tablets for the past 1.5 months my blood pressure is now spot on, for the first 2 days i ached like i have never ached before,,,but fine after that....

yep I have read about long term effects but then again I am only 38 and want to see my 5 and 2 year old grow up rather than suffer a heart attack. (my father died aged 39) when I was only a boy....

its had no effect on my running, although i was told to lay off the tablets for a couple of days before a planned marathon (like most people on here we dream one day of a FLM place) just because of dehydration and taking medication isn't a good idea.

so all in all, its been a good thing....yep I shed more than a few tears about starting medication and when i did a Heart Foundation run earlier in the year had a chat to a 23 year old lady who was on tablets...and she was skinny, but like me the issue ran (no pun) in the family....

best wishes


(ran 18 miles on saturday for the first time)

Edited: 19/08/2008 at 09:43
19/08/2008 at 10:07
Statins are damaging over long term use, i took them for 10 years suffering a lot of leg pains and cramps but never guessing these may be the cause

but not in everyone's case - I guess you are one of the unlucky ones DT.

muscle pain is a well known side effect of statins and you should have been warned about this when your medication started - did you ever discuss this with the GP?? they should have known of this and if they didn't advise you correctly - they need their arse kicking - and you should have been offered an alternative

statins generally have been found to cause so few problems that many specialists are now advocating them as a daily pill for ALL men over 50 to reduce CHD levels cheaply and easily as dietary/exercise advice if falling on too many deaf ears in most of the male population
Edited: 19/08/2008 at 10:07

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