Cholesterol Numbers Aren't Budging!

Got a call from my doctor's office today with my lab results from last week, as follows: 221 total cholesterol, 146 LDL ("bad"), 64 HDL ("good").

I'm surprised and disappointed that my numbers have not improved more over this past year. Last year's lab work was: 215 total; 145 LDL, 56 HDL. The fish oil pills I take daily have bumped up my good cholesterol levels a little, but nothing else has changed.

I have lost 41 lbs over the last 13 months, going from 238 to 197. I'm 5'7" tall. I still need to lose 30 (or 40) more pounds to get to a healthy weight for my height. My doctor said my numbers are stable and he isn't worried, but since I already exercise 60-90 minutes 6-7 days a week, I'm not sure what else to do to help my cholesterol--except lose that last 30 lbs.

Advice? Anyone else had similar stats and turned them around?
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Replies

  • bold_rabbit
    bold_rabbit Posts: 1,198 Member
    Congrats on the weight loss and the regular exercise!

    The MFP community frequently points out the improvements in lipids/glucose/BP that occur with weight loss and exercise. And this is absolutely the case - for lots of people. Unfortunately, "lots" doesn't include everyone! Try not to be discouraged. Keep doing what you have been. Perhaps start making any tweaks in your diet in areas like whole grains, fiber, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, alcohol consumption, etc. Make them slowly and in ways that you still enjoy. A year from now, you may be pleasantly surprised.

    Not to annoy you, but just to show the opposite situation -

    I have weighed between normal BMI and obese. I have never had anything but excellent blood work results. I have a morbidly obese adult child who irks their doctor with their "unexpected" good lipid and glucose results.
  • nooshi713
    nooshi713 Posts: 4,839 Member
    Losing the last pounds will help.

    Increase the soluble fiber in your diet as well as your intake of walnuts.
  • grinning_chick
    grinning_chick Posts: 765 Member
    edited November 2019
    First, a big congrats for dropping what you have; that is so awesome to read! :) You be kicking some serious *kittenbutts* progress/success-wise, make no mistake.

    But they did budge; you trended downwards in the bad and overall. And you've been squarely in only "borderline high" on both sets of results and now improving, which might be why your primary care provider isn't worried.

    Did your physician prescribe for you the levels of EPA/DHA in the fish oil needed to have any positive impact on your total tri's and HDL (it won't do diddly for your LDL levels) so you know you are taking high enough amounts of both?

    You are going to find tons of info and conflicting info online concerning so I would stick with advice from sources like UMich/Mayo/Cleveland/Cornell/Harvard/etc. health info websites should you want to explore what other dietary changes/modification options you still have available in your dietary toolbox to explore. But there are additional dietary mods to check out, to be sure.

    As a preemptive opinion aside: I personally would not jump on the statins train until you see where the numbers look like at what maintenance weight you ultimately settle on. As it currently is, I would (and do) seriously side-eye any physician who pushes for them in patients who were not consistently above 240 on serial lab work results.
  • deannalfisher
    deannalfisher Posts: 5,601 Member
    something to also consider is that more and more, research is linking high cholesterol to genetics and there is not as much dietary influence as once believed - you could just be one of those unlucky ones
  • DiscusTank5
    DiscusTank5 Posts: 223 Member
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    ahimes39 wrote: »

    Keep losing weight and see what happens. How's your nutrition? How's the fruit and veg intake? How is fiber?

    Do what you can do, but also understand that cholesterol issues are often hereditary and an uphill battle. That doesn't mean you should give up though...maintaining a healthy weight, nutritious diet, and regular exercise may not put you optimal, but it's likely going to leave you better off than you otherwise would be.

    Thanks Cwolfman13. Nutritionally, I could do better. I like veggies and eat at least 5 servings a day, but I also like goodies, esp. chocolate--I try not to keep ice cream in the house because if it is here, I'll eat it. Also, I've read that high fat dairy is linked to higher cholesterol, and I love my half-and-half in black tea several times a day. Maybe time to re-think that habit.
  • DiscusTank5
    DiscusTank5 Posts: 223 Member
    Congrats on the weight loss and the regular exercise!

    The MFP community frequently points out the improvements in lipids/glucose/BP that occur with weight loss and exercise. And this is absolutely the case - for lots of people. Unfortunately, "lots" doesn't include everyone! Try not to be discouraged. Keep doing what you have been. Perhaps start making any tweaks in your diet in areas like whole grains, fiber, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, alcohol consumption, etc. Make them slowly and in ways that you still enjoy. A year from now, you may be pleasantly surprised.

    Not to annoy you, but just to show the opposite situation -

    I have weighed between normal BMI and obese. I have never had anything but excellent blood work results. I have a morbidly obese adult child who irks their doctor with their "unexpected" good lipid and glucose results.

    Lucky you and your child! My mom is on statins (and is also quite overweight) but I'm hoping not to go in that direction. I could eat more whole grains and fiber, definitely. I don't drink alcohol, so not much to improve on there. I'm going to keep going with the exercise and as you suggest, try diet tweaks and see what I can live with.
  • DiscusTank5
    DiscusTank5 Posts: 223 Member
    nooshi713 wrote: »
    Losing the last pounds will help.

    Increase the soluble fiber in your diet as well as your intake of walnuts.

    Will do!!
  • DiscusTank5
    DiscusTank5 Posts: 223 Member
    First, a big congrats for dropping what you have; that is so awesome to read! :) You be kicking some serious *kittenbutts* progress/success-wise, make no mistake.

    But they did budge; you trended downwards in the bad and overall. And you've been squarely in only "borderline high" on both sets of results and now improving, which might be why your primary care provider isn't worried.

    Did your physician prescribe for you the levels of EPA/DHA in the fish oil needed to have any positive impact on your total tri's and HDL (it won't do diddly for your LDL levels) so you know you are taking high enough amounts of both?

    You are going to find tons of info and conflicting info online concerning so I would stick with advice from sources like UMich/Mayo/Cleveland/Cornell/Harvard/etc. health info websites should you want to explore what other dietary changes/modification options you still have available in your dietary toolbox to explore. But there are additional dietary mods to check out, to be sure.

    As a preemptive opinion aside: I personally would not jump on the statins train until you see where the numbers look like at what maintenance weight you ultimately settle on. As it currently is, I would (and do) seriously side-eye any physician who pushes for them in patients who were not consistently above 240 on serial lab work results.

    Thank you grinning_chick! As a matter of fact, my Dr. did not mention what level of fish oil pills I should be trying. Currently I take one 1200 mg tablet a day--looking at the side of the NatureMade bottle just now, I'm noticing for the first time that a serving is actually two tablets, so I could double what I've been taking. My Dr. did not recommend getting on statins, and I would love to avoid medication for this and instead get it under control through diet and exercise, or at least as much as my genetics will allow.
  • DiscusTank5
    DiscusTank5 Posts: 223 Member
    something to also consider is that more and more, research is linking high cholesterol to genetics and there is not as much dietary influence as once believed - you could just be one of those unlucky ones

    Deannalfisher, I agree that genetics is part of the issue since my mother takes statins for her high cholesterol, but then, she is also overweight. It would be nice to see where we both would end up--in so many health areas--if my mom and I got down to a healthy weight for our heights.
  • sgt1372
    sgt1372 Posts: 3,969 Member
    Chg in cholesterol levels will lag wt loss and diet chgs BUT if you are losing wt and eating "better" (which in this case means eating less of those things - even "healthy" things - that can elevate your cholesterol levels.

    FWIW, my total cholesterol (TC) level has been traditionally high and remained so after I lost wt and chged my diet for the better.

    However, what did chg were my HDL, LDL and TG levels which were and still are better than recommended levels. My doc is not concerned (not am I) w/my high TC level, given the other "good" measurements.
  • Duck_Puddle
    Duck_Puddle Posts: 3,227 Member
    My cholesterol numbers were similar to yours-even after I lost 80 pounds, started running/lifting, eating “healthier” and got to a healthy weight.

    My numbers improve if I stick with a low fat (especially saturated fat) diet. It’s that or meds for me.
  • lorrpb
    lorrpb Posts: 11,465 Member
    Some people's higher cholesterol levels are genetic, diet and exercise won't make these get to normal, but they might help keep it from getting worse.
  • DiscusTank5
    DiscusTank5 Posts: 223 Member
    My cholesterol numbers were similar to yours-even after I lost 80 pounds, started running/lifting, eating “healthier” and got to a healthy weight.

    My numbers improve if I stick with a low fat (especially saturated fat) diet. It’s that or meds for me.

    Duck_Puddle, a few years ago I tried the keto diet (high fat, high protein, low carbs) and my cholesterol numbers went through the roof! I may be one of the few whose bodies respond to high / low fat diets. Thanks for the advice about a low fat diet.
  • peggy_polenta
    peggy_polenta Posts: 242 Member
    are you a smoker by any chance? "Cigarette smoke raises levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, and a blood fat called triglycerides. Those cause waxy plaque to build up in your arteries. At the same time, it lowers HDL, or "good" cholesterol -- the kind that prevents plaque from forming". a lot of people don't know this.
  • DiscusTank5
    DiscusTank5 Posts: 223 Member
    are you a smoker by any chance? "Cigarette smoke raises levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, and a blood fat called triglycerides. Those cause waxy plaque to build up in your arteries. At the same time, it lowers HDL, or "good" cholesterol -- the kind that prevents plaque from forming". a lot of people don't know this.

    Peggy_Polenta, that's interesting about smoking, but nope. I've never smoked even once. My vices lie along the chocolate and cookies line.
  • DiscusTank5
    DiscusTank5 Posts: 223 Member
    If you commented on this thread, feel free to friend me. Then you can look at my food diary and see all my weaknesses! (Yikes.)
  • maureenkhilde
    maureenkhilde Posts: 850 Member
    Congratulations on the weight loss. I know how that can help. I have improved mine some as well. More veges, also take fish oil capsules, lots more exercise. And I now eat fish 3X a week going between Salmon, Halibut, and turbot mostly. We will see as I have a blood test for all of this on the 26th.
  • psuLemon
    psuLemon Posts: 38,038 MFP Moderator
    HDL is a good indicator but total cholesterol and LDL are fairly poor of metabolic health. What or did they test, triglycerides, A1C or CRP?

    Also, there are people who are hyper LDL responders from keto diets. It doesn't necessarily mean your health is gotten worse, but it's driven from the increase in FFA and need for more receptors to uptake the lipoproteins.

    Almost every single person in my family (both father and mothers) side has high LDLs. You want to know what disease I do not have in my family? That's right heart disease.

    If you really are concerned, you could talk with your doctor about a fractionated blood test. This way, they can test for LDL particulate size.