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Under 40 with High Cholesterol
DBasler posted:
I am only 32 years old and was just told by my doctor that I have high cholesterol and that he wants to put me on a statin drug. I am meeting with him again tomorrow, but I am leery of going on a medication that I will have to take for years and years. I want to see about lowering it myself with diet and exercise. Is there anyone out there in a similar situation that wants to chat about the experience? Have you lowered your cholesterol without taking statins?
DeadManWalking56 responded:
I am 56 with severe heart disease, and on a statin, Vytorin, plus very low fat diet and exercise.

My understanding is that statins should help about 10-15%. My LDL came down 60% from 137 to 57 with statin plus diet and exercise.

You should definitely try lifestyle method first, if you can be that strict with yourself. Most people can't.

Check the forum , The Great Diet Debate, and Ornish Support for connection with others working on trying to reverse cholesterol and heart disease.

tallbecky responded:
DBasler, I was in the same position you are a year ago this month. At the time I was 24 years old, now I am 25. I am very active in sports, eat healthy, and not overweight. Last November, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol. I am not sure what your numbers were but my total was 280 and my LDL was crazy high. The doctor told me to take a supplement for 3 months and get it rechecked. She was afraid to put me on a medication knowing that I was 24. I watched what I ate, exercised more than usual, and took the pills religiously. The last thing I wanted to do was take a med for the rest of my life. I went back to get it checked at it rose to 320! I went in to a different doctor where he immediately put me on medication. For my own sake, I was happy he did. I felt like I had no control over it and did everything I could to lower it. Eight months have gone by that I have been on prescribed medication. I went from 20mg-80mg in 4 months. Now I am awaiting my results............again. You always hear about liver and muscle pain and damage from statins. I worry about this all the time since I am so young although taking the medication has lowered my chance of heart disease or a TIA. So to answer your questions, I have tried exercising and eating right (which did raise my HDL although mine is good because of how active I am) that didn't work, I tried a supplement and that didn't work. Now I am on meds and it seems to be slowly working. I know I just kinda spilled my cholesterol life with you but if you would like more info from me about my personal life on the medication, feel free to ask. Also, if this makes you feel better, there are soooo many people with cholesterol problems. You are not alone. My goodness, I am 7 years younger than you and I have gone through a lot with it already.
kathykj2 responded:
My name is kathy and i have been on cholestrol lowering meds for years, i am 54 i take 6 different pills a day for it,,, in feburary of this year i started going to dallas to have my blood filtered and it has lowered my numbers alot.
chacha224 responded:
Hi! I reduced my cholesterol total from 237 to 207 by including the following as a part of my daily meals: 8-0z of tempeh-a hanful of raw almonds-2 tbsps of ground flax seeds-an apple a day-1/2 cup of any kind of coked beans, e.g., navy beans, black beans etc.-a clove of fresh garlic [I eat as part of my last meal of the day--usually at home. I mince or chop it and mix it in my food. that way I can be in polite company - the smell goes away in less than an hour.> Hope this is helpful.
caraba26 responded:
I can't believe you said that! - I am in the exact same situation, but I am only 26! (My problem is that my good cholesterol is too low) I felt the same way about not wanting to take medications and made a deal with myself - take Omega-3, watch my diet, and if things don't get better by January then I will resort to taking meds. I am not happy about it at all, but really, which is worse? - taking meds or having clogged arteries? Keep me posted about your situation.
wvmountain2 responded:
I've used guggul in the past with very good results. You can get it at a health food store. Brought my husband's down & mine also [mine was very high>. It also helps to only eat sockeye or wild salmon several times a week & take fish oil. An apple a day is also good & fresh flax seed meal or the flax seed oil with lignan [it isn't so tasty> also from the health food store. You can put the flax seed in a blender to make meal out of it & then sprinkle it on cereal, salad, & other things [2 tablespoons a day>. Keep it in the refrigerator or better yet, the freezer. It will take a while but worth the effort. I can't take the medicine & I didn't like the side effects it can cause.
glaut responded:
I'm in the same boat at 35. Funny thing is my cholesterol was never high before I got seriously into bike racing. I'm a clydesdale (200+ lbs on a bike) and have been working very hard at losing weight all summer long then suddenly I started having chest pains. Now a month or so later I've got a script for Pravastatin and Nitroglycer? My bp has always been in the 115/65 range and suddenly it hovers in the 135/70 range? I too am nervous about Statins. My dad had a real bad response to them once but I'll take them and watch the side-effects like an eagle. First sign of anything questionable and i'm off them.

I'm willing to make the lifestyle changes to lower my cholesterol and drop the pounds naturally rather than be on meds for the rest of my life! I'm keeping up the bike riding, have added in resistance training and am spending more time actively playing with my daughter and our dogs.

As for food: I've cut out nearly all processed foods from my diet and am back to doing almost all of my own cooking. As busy as I am it still doesn't take that much effort to make your own meals. It helps that I like raw veggies so I don't have to cook them in fat to make them tasty. My favorite meal is sliced green peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers lightly salted and peppered and allowed to sit for an hour or so to get 'juicy' then mix that with a small amount of steamed brown rice and maybe 4oz of free range turkey breast. No other sauces or flavorings and its delicious. I also sub in fajita meat for the turkey for a change of pace. I've been steadily dropping a pound or two a week over the last month just eating this instead of canned soup or a burger for lunch. I try to get about 70% of my calories from veggies, 10-15% from fruit and the rest is bread (homemade only), meat and beer (also homemade)
kimncolin responded:
Hi I was in the same position as you are I am also 32 yrs old and I was told my cholesterol was almost 400 my dr put me on lovaza which is a fish oil and I lost 40lbs on my own with diet and exercise and now I am off the lovaza and my cholesterol is now fine, I was only on it like 9 months, hope this helps you....
mor1234 responded:
You aren't alone. I have always had high cholesterol, I am 31 now and last time I had it checked it was 228. My Dr. said he wants me to lower it myself, without drugs. However, when I was younger, hadn't had 5 kids in 6 years and was skinny, my cholesterol was high also. I have to think there is genetics involved. I've been working on my diet and exercise, and I think that it is possible to get it under control without the meds. I would hate to be on something for years and years when it was something I could change. Good luck!
peacock3258 responded:
My doctor sent me to a cardiologist . He told me that to lower my cholesterol I should cut back on white starches (bread, rice, potatoes, pasta). I've switched to whole grain bread and wheat pasta, and occasionally brown rice and sweet potatoes. These are all high in fiber which is supposed to help lower cholesterol ( lower ldl and raise hdl). Continuing the exercising. Will find out by Christmas if it worked.
kaytron5000 responded:
Not to sound like a broken record too!

I'm 19 years old. I'm active (I walk everywhere, not to mention dance, run, and strength train on occasion). I follow a healthy vegetarian diet (I don't just carb load every night!), with some indulgences, sure, but never anything crazy. I'm not overweight, though I feel I could lose some 5 pounds or so. I can run a mile in 9 minutes easily, which again isn't outstanding, but decent. My resting blood pressure hovers around 105/75.

Oh, yeah, and my cholesterol is 240.

When I found this out, I rightly flipped a bit. My doctor gave me the standard, diet and exercise mantra, and come back in a year. But what else can I do? Besides change my diet to a super strict regimen (fat chance, I'm a college student) and join the army's phys ed program? I understand that my numbers are probably genetic...but I am so opposed to going on pills for the rest of my life, before I'm even twenty, sheesh. I don't even like to take Advil.

Out of curiosity then, is it possible to live with a number this high, and not be high risk for heart attack? (For the record, my HDL is 41, LDL is...I want to say 171, and my tryglicerides, thankfully, are super low, but I can't come up with the number.) Especially if I keep or improve my physical stats (Mile time, weight, BP, etc)? Because the way I am now, I don't see myself having much of a risk, unless I'm just doomed.
PABPAB responded:
I am 46 years old, so this may or may not be helpful to you. I was told a few years ago that I had high HDL (107). Because of family history (bypass surgery for some family members in early 40's), the doctor suggested that I take a statin. I decided to try diet and exercise instead. This past year I lost 20 pounds and the LDL went down to 91. However, because of the food choices I made (I am a finicky eater), I now have an elevated blood potassium level. Apparently, it is possible to eat too many vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, whole grains and nuts. I would never have imagined that eating too much of a good thing could present a problem. I now have to add low potassium to my diet plan. I guess the lesson that may benefit others is to eat all items in moderation--even good and healthy things.

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