DIY cholesterol

Discuss cholesterol, and what you can yourself do to reduce it if high with diet exercise and drugs in brief -  My ideas and thoughts.


Quick links:

Worry about cholesterol?

How to reduce high cholesterol yourself


Remember that illness results from the interaction between gene and environment. We have   no control over our genes. We are born with it. We shall have to live with it (and die with it). We can alter the environment in our favour.


Everybody has cholesterol in blood and it is essential for life. But if it is higher than normal then we need to bring it back to normal. High cholesterol accelerates the damage to the lining of blood vessels leading to hardening of arterial wall (atherosclerosis) thereby narrowing of the lumen and less blood going to the organs and there is increased risk of clot causing stoppage of blood supply as happens in heart attack and stroke.


There are plenty of 'worried well' among us.


Let us find out wheather you need to worry about cholesterol or not:


If you have yellowish patch (xanthelasma) under your eyeborw close to the nose, white circle around cornea before the age of 50, high cholesterol in the family, angina or heart attack in the family, then get your cholesterol checked, as it may be high.


1. Do a blood test whenever you can ie Random cholesterol level. Fasing cholesterol level is preferable. You can do it yourself with home test kit available. Normal cholesterol level is 3 to 5.7(in the UK) - If it is within the range, don't worry. Follow HLS (Healthy Lifestyle) to remain healthy.


2. If the result is between 5.7 and 6 - follow HLS and repeat Cholesterol in 3 months. If normal now,  continue HLS.


3. If more than 6, we need to see what other risk factors you have:


   1) Do you smoke? - if yes, stop smoking and continue HLS. Repeat Cholesterol level in 3 months.


   2) Are you diabetic? - if you don't know, check your Random blood sugar first. If high, then the diagnosis of diabetes needs to be confirmed. See your doctor or nurse in the surgery. Advice regarding cholesterol lowering will follow.


   3) Do you have high blood pressure?


   4) Do you suffer from angina or had a heart attack?


   5) Is there a family history of angina or heart attack?


   6) Do you have xanthelasma? Yellowish raised patch around the eyes (see picture). If you have, then definitely you should get your cholesterol lavel checked.


Health-ideaas xanthelasma


4. If your cholesterol is high and you have other risk factors, you need to lower cholesterol.


5 If high cholesterol is due to high 'good cholesterol' then no treatment is needed. How to find out?

You need to get a blood test for total cholesterol and HDL - value of their ratio if less than 4, then no need to worry about it. Eg total cholesterol is 6.5 and HDL is 1.8, then ratio is about 3.7 which is less than 4. So, although total cholesterol is high, you won't need any treatment.


6. If you had a heart attack, then whatever level of cholesterol you had during the event, that level is too high for you. That level needs to be brought down. You will prabably be on a 'statin' drug like simvastatin.



I will suggest what to do to reduce high cholesterol


1. Adopt a healthy lifestyle as far as practicable.(see Healthy lifestyle)


2. As your cholesterol is high (more than 6) we need to concentrate on your fat intake.

Avoid butter whch is full of cholesterol. Use low fat spread like Flora margarine, Soya margarine. These do not reduce cholesterol but they are low in cholesterol. Cook with sunflower oil or soya oil or rapeseed oil. Rapeseed oil is the best of the lot but expensive. Amount you use should be as low as possible.


Benecol and Flora pro-active reduce cholesterol. They are expensive. They reduce cholesterol by reducing the amount of cholesterol absorbed from the gut as they have plant sterols in them.

Plant sterols are available as such to take by mouth - Lestrin

Lowering cholesterol


Take high fibre diet which also reduce cholesterol. by interfering with cholesterol absorption from the gut. Take wholemeal bread, wholemeal psta, fruit and vegetables, pulses, lentils etc.


Avoid red meat. Take lean meat, chicken etc. Remove fat and skin. Grill rather tha fry. Boiled is even better. Cottage cheese has lower fat. Use semi-skimmed milk. Exercise regularly.


6. Recheck random cholesterol after about 3 months to see wheather the level has returned to normal or not. If it has become normal, then continue same.


If these measures fail then it may have been produced in excess by your liver (gene effect) or due to other condition like underactive thyroid.


7. If you have underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), then cholesterol level should return to normal on adequate thyroxine replacement.


8. Fish oil raises good cholesterol (HDL) - Oily fish like Herring, Salmon, Mackerel have good cholesterol. Take 2 or 3 portions per week. Fish oil is also available as capsule at health food shop.


9. Simvastatin at 10mg dose is available over the counter in pharmacies. One daily you can take yourself and see if it works. This is to counteract overproduction of cholesterol in the liver. If you get muscle pain, then you should stop taking it and see your doctor.


Upto this is cholesterol lowering. do-it-yourself


If cholesterol still remains high, see your doctor who may give you appropriate tests and medications.


Only high cholesterol without other risk factors for Coronary heart disease as mentioned earlier, is not so dangerous.


You can always consult your doctor if you cannot bring down high cholesterol yourself following above suggestions.


(Examples of some cholesterol lowering drugs - Simvastatin, Bezafibrate, Ezetimibe, Nicotinic acid, Maxepa) Go to health shopping - for Lloyds pharmacy and


Good health!


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