Despite lifestyle changes, cholesterol rising

joyce_6333April 28, 2009

I'm so discouraged. About 2 1/2 months ago, I had a physical. BP was VERY high, LDL cholesterol elevated, however HDL and triglycerides were excellent. I've been working hard, made significant lifestyle changes, including losing 15 lbs (weight watchers) and excerising 30 min daily, including some minor weight lifting.

I was excited to go to my follow-up Dr appt today because I was sure he would be pleased with my progress. Well, bp was back in the normal range, so that was good, but LDL had risen significantly - almost 40 pts, HDL had dropped 30 points, and triglycerides had also risen. And now he says my blood sugars are showing borderline diabetic.

What the heck is going on. Dr says it's all genetic, and now wants me on Zocor. Why did the HDL rise so sharply after I made all these positive changes. I'm pretty discouraged right now.

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Been there, and it is so frustrating. I lost 20% of my body weight and exercised daily for over an hour with no positive effect. My AiC runs between 5.8 and 6.1 which is quite low. My Dr. ordered genetic testing. I wish he hadn't. I knew I was at high risk for heart disease and Alzheimers because of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, but finding out I was pre-programmed for it based on my DNA was so disheartening. I don't know why that made it worse, but now I am obsessing on death and insanity.

Doctors would like us to think that diet, exercise, and medications are the answer to everything. They aren't. Diabetes is a progressive disease and it will progress no matter how careful I am. Don't get me wrong, I think that drugs, diet and exercise are very important but I can't let myself believe in the fairy tale endings that the drug manufacturers put out there.

I have had the same problem as you with my HDL. There may be a connection to lifestyle changes that has yet to be discovered or disclosed. Science is changing daily and what was gospel one day is an old wive's tale the next. You just have to hang in there and do the best you can. I just had my dosage of Crestor doubled. We'll see if that helps, but I am not betting on it

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 8:54PM
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You could have high cholesterol because of the borderline Diabetes or Hypothyroidism (although it sounds like you are not having fatigue which is a main symptom). Treat the disease and the symptom of high cholesterol should go away. Not saying this is your problem, but it may warrent further testing.

* Diabetes - some sources claim that diabetes alters lipids leading to cholesterol elevation.

* Hypothyroidism - some sources claim that hypothyroidism alters lipids leading to cholesterol elevation. from

Personally I wouldn't worry too much about the high cholesterol. The drugs to treat cause numerous side effects. Below is a interesting article which may help you relax a bit about your high levels.

Here is a link that might be useful: Benefits of Cholesterol

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 11:05AM
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"but LDL had risen significantly - almost 40 pts, HDL had dropped 30 points, and triglycerides had also risen. '

this would be pretty typical if you were becoming insulin resistant or diabetic. It's possible you have been edging towards diabetes without realising it and by changing your diet to a low fat high carb one, then you could easily throw off your blood sugar and cholesterol levels so i'd suspect that's what's happening.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 5:22PM
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Thanks for your responses. What you said sure does make sense. I am 62, and most of my family on my father's side are all diabetic. My father was able to control his with medication, but I do remember my grandmother giving herself shots. And all my children were 10 lbs at birth. Since I'm only 5' tall, and used to be tiny (going to get there again!), this was considered large for me. I remember reading that that is a "sign". I'm resigning myself to the fact I may need to take meds for the rest of my life.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 7:58AM
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You may very well be on the road to diabetes and it sounds like you should be tested. That doesn't mean that diabetes "caused" your lipid problems. Diabetes is now considered to be a part of a syndrome. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are thought to come from the same source, rather than one causing the other.

There has been so much junk science reporting lately about diabetes that it just drives me nuts. "Studies show that drinking diet increases odds of getting diabetes" How about instead "overweight people drink a lot of diet soda and also get diabetes"? OR "People who drink coffee are less likely to develop diabetes" when it could just as well be "overweight people drink fewer low calories beverages" Or my favorite: "napping may lead to diabetes" instead of "napping might mean you have diabetes". Correlation and causation are not the same thing. That's basic science, but you can't tell it from the reports.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 2:04PM
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"High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are thought to come from the same source, rather than one causing the other."

I totally disagree, diabetics and prediabetics are very prone to cholesterol problems as a side effect. The same thing happened to me I had very high LDL which kept going up, very low HDL and very high TriG, cholesterol medication barely made any difference and it defied logic as there was nothing in my diet that could have been causing it. Once it was discovered I was diabetic and my blood sugar was under control LDL and TrG rapidly came down and HDL went up to normal this all happened very quickly.

The clues here are family history of diabetes, evidence of insulin disfunction according to joyce's doctor, and a change in diet. take a person with insulin dysfunction increase the carbs and that is enough to send the whole thing out of kilter.

I dont know what reports youre talking about but I get my information from my specialist and she is considered the top of her field and from her I have learnt that diabetes has many other effects in the body as it is a very complex disease

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 2:57PM
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I am very active in the diabetes community and subscribe to the newsletter of the American Association of Practicing Endocronologists and the Joslin clinic for diabetes research, as well as seeing a specialist myself. Have you even heard of metabolic syndrome? My blood sugar is tightly controlled, but it has not in any way helped my lipid panel. Cholesterol is NOT a side effect it is a co-effect according to nearly all researchers in the field. My DNA has the APO-e marker for high LDL and triglycerides My cholesterol actually has a peculiar shape in that it has a corkscrew end that bores into the walls of my arteries.

It doesn't really matter if we agree or not. The treatment is the same. My only concern is that someone who is doing everything right can be made to feel wrong because they didn't get the result you did. I also think that there is a great deal yet to be discovered about diet, exercise physiology, and the root cause of metabolic syndrome. This is not a one size fits all disease. My last HBA1C was 5.8 and my cholesterol was worse than ever.

I live near a medical school that puts a lot of emphasis on diabetes research. One of the surprising things that has come up recently is that it looks like it is better to spike and return to normal than to take a lower hit of sugar over a longer period of time (e.g. taking it with fat or fiber). This is totally contrary to what anyone expected or current medical advice. They aren't releasing this information yet because they want to run the tests again to be sure. I think this is an interesting example of how best medical practice can be turned on its head.

If the OP finds that her blood sugar is elevated, I hope that she has the same result that you do when she lowers it, but I am a little bit sceptical because her exercise regime has so far failed to help.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 6:40PM
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Devorah your condition doesnt sound typical at all, but diabetes can and does cause lipid problems in many diabetics. Up until recently the OP had fairly normal lipids but after changing to a "healthier diet" the lipids started going awry, that is a classic sign that it's related to her "borderline diabetes" and carbs. The problem is though that many doctors try to treat the cholesterol problems and ignore the indications of diabetes, or try to treat them separately and it doesnt work when the cholesterol is a result of the diabetes.

By the time I was diagnosed my health was in very bad shape and I had multiple endocrine problems which is why I ended up seeing this specialist. Her approach was to treat the diabetes first and wait for everything else to click back into place by itself which it did.

"My only concern is that someone who is doing everything right can be made to feel wrong because they didn't get the result you did."

At the moment the OP is feeling frustrated because she is doing "everything right" and her test results are getting worse. I've been there and it's very disheartening but the typical approach to "eating better" is to reduce fat and replace it with carbs, which is fine for a healthy person but can easily backfire once there is diabetes or prediabetes involved.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 11:50PM
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Mine is high also, I haven't been checked in awhile, but I'll tell you what might help. I couldn't take lipitor so my Dr. put me on niacin tablets and fish oil soft gels. I don't know if its working but it cant hurt.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 7:29PM
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My husband can't take the statins either and he takes niacin. I am supposed to be taking niacin, but I wanted to see what doubling the Crestor would do and not confuse the effect. I don't think you should take a high dose of niacin without a doctor's supervision. You can buy it OTC at Costco for a very reasonable price. At the Costco I shop at, it is behind the counter and I have to ask for it. There is the slow release niacin on the shelf with the other supplements, but research shows that it doesn't work. There is also a prescription niacin that has fewer side effects, but is much much more expensive. The unpleasant side effects of niacin are lessened by taking a baby asperin 15 minutes before taking the niacin. You may still get a pretty dramatic rash, swelling, itchiness in the first few days, but I found that it settled down a lot over time.

I am supposed to take 6 fish oil capsules a day. I usually remember to take 4. I haven't seen a difference. I also take 1/4 cup of flax seed meal most days and I also eat walnuts to get my omega 3s

My husband has also been prescribed red yeast rice capsules to help with his cholesterol. He gets these OTC at Costco also.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 12:09PM
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