Answers Q&A

As you may know, as “cholesterol expert” I’ve written many articles for Answers.com, which you can find in two places. First, on the cholesterol page of the Answers.com site. Also I have all the articles listed by title on the “Answers.com Published Articles” page on this Going Lo-Co site.

And now, new news…

This week, Answers.com added a new page to their site: a Q&A with me.  Of course, if you have cholesterol questions, you can always email me/comment right here on the Going Lo-Co site. But now you can also ask me a question (but not, of course, for medical advice!) on the all new www.answers.com/karenswanson site.

Just mentioning…

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Home Cholesterol Tests

Measuring progress toward a goal can be oh, so rewarding (or, um, not)… and I recently found myself wondering whether there was an easy, inexpensive way for me to track how things are going with my lowering-cholesterol-with-just-lifestyle-changes ‘program’ in between doctor visits.

It turns out there is: there are several home cholesterol tests available online and in retail stores – and a few of them are even FDA-approved.

Indeed, according to the FDA site, some of these home cholesterol tests are, “about as accurate as the test your doctor uses, but you must follow the directions carefully.” The directions have to do with fasting – which may not even be required if you’re measuring just total cholesterol, but is important for triglyceride measurement (for more info, see my Answers.com article, No More Fasting For A Cholesterol Test?). But following the directions carefully also involves instructions for how to (repeatedly and correctly) prick your finger and draw blood.

My interest is waning.  As in, I’m trying not to faint.  Because I am not good with blood. At all.

In a doctor’s office the cholesterol blood test draw is OK because I just look away.  But having to do it myself is a bit daunting. But on I must go – as results measurement trumps possible fainting. At least theoretically.

If you’d like to learn all about the multiple test kits available, read my article entitled Top Cholesterol Monitors for Your Budget, which was recently published on Answers.com.  But if you don’t want all the details (and I wouldn’t if I were you), do what I plan to do and check out one of two home cholesterol kits.

The first is the Check Up America Cholesterol Panel Kit. What I love about this kit is that it measures all four key cholesterol measures (total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglycerides) and runs about $40 … so for $40 I can monitor how I’m doing without my doctor thinking I’ve lost my mind/I want to know too much, too often.  (Especially since I know that cholesterol levels don’t change very quickly, so the value of this is, um, negligible.)  That said, the only big downside to this kit is you have to mail in for results.

If you value instant results over the LDL cholesterol measure (and you shouldn’t, as LDL is the bad cholesterol and you should keep an eye on it), you can opt for the Accutech‘s CholesTrak HDL & Total Cholesterol Kit. It’s about $20 – a veritable bargain.  But again, you don’t get the important LDL measure – but you do get results in just 15 minutes.

So if you want to monitor your cholesterol in between doctor visits, these are two FDA-approved, relatively inexpensive ways to feed your results fetish.

Let’s just hope I don’t faint if I try it.

 

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Calculate Your Heart Attack Risk Online

Did you know there are quick, easy-to-use, online calculators that will tell you how likely you are to have a heart attack in the next 10 years?

There are several, in fact.  Most of these online risk calculators are based on the Framingham risk score, which assesses heart disease risk in the next 10 years based on six pieces of information: age, sex, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, smoking status and systolic blood pressure.

The Reynolds risk score goes beyond the Framingham risk score.  In addition to all the factors required by the Framingham risk score, the Reynolds risk score asks for C-reactive protein test results (which are not included in a typical lipid panel) and whether a parent had a heart attack before age 60.

While these online calculators are certainly not the be all and end all, they can be very handy in discussing with your doctor whether (and how long) you can manage high cholesterol without turning to statin Rx medication.  You can read about how these heart disease risk calculators work and where to find them online in my recently published article on Answers.com: Calculating Heart Disease Risk.

And you can find a link to the American Heart Association’s Risk Calculator – born when the 2013 guidelines debuted – on my RESOURCES page.

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New Role: Cholesterol ‘Expert’ for Answers.com

A few months ago, I got an email from the online behemoth Answers.com about this very blog: they liked Going Lo-Co (!!) and asked if I’d be interested in becoming an Answers.com category expert. After a writing test, an editing test, and much back-and-forthing, I am pleased to announce that I am now publishing articles as the cholesterol ‘category expert’ on Answers.com.

Check out the Answers.com overall cholesterol page; it has many useful articles, a few I’ve written and many written by others.  It’s a good place to learn more about cholesterol.

Want to know more about me? Check out my ‘Cholesterol Expert Profile Page’ on Answers.com. There you’ll find a bit more about my ‘expert’ background, as well as a Q&A explaining why I write about cholesterol.

And finally, here are links to the first five articles I published on Answers.com:

I’ve created a new page on Going Lo-Co, and will publish links to all my Answers.com articles on the new Going Lo-Co Answers.com Expert page.

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