Cholesterol Results Through 2018

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In June, when I spoke about The Low Cholesterol Cookbook and Action Plan at the Westport Library Cookbook Club, an audience member asked if I post my cholesterol test results. While individual test results are only relevant to that individual, I get this question often enough that it seemed a good time to update with my latest lab scores.

Because I’m a data nerd (and like to discuss cholesterol trends with my doctors…and a visual makes a recap easy!) I’ve graphed them over time.

 

These latest results were heartening (sorry, pun intended) and indicate the lo-co change I made in mid-February is working. Four months of daily exercise along with eating Overnight Refrigerated Oatmeal (instead of a half-bagel-and-lox for breakfast) along with Metamucil mixed with red grapefruit juice resulted in a drop in my Total Cholesterol from 258 to 241. While that’s just a 6.5% decline, it’s a decline, which is encouraging.

Overall, what this graph tells me is that things are holding pretty steady, without statins.

  • The red line of Total Cholesterol, while still above the old ‘goal’ of 200, has leveled off and is even slightly declining.
  • The green line of LDL (bad) cholesterol is relatively steady (and down a bit in 2018) so, directionally positive. That said, it’s above the old ‘goal’ or ‘reference range’ of <100 listed on the  blood test report. So I need to focus a bit more on what I can do to naturally lower LDL cholesterol.
  • The only other negative is the blue line of HDL (good) cholesterol, as it’s flattening/falling a bit, but the 2018 measure is still well above the old ‘goal’ of >50 mg/dL.
  • Finally, the purple Triglyceride line has fallen and is now below the old ‘goal’ of <150 mg/dL.

Since the lab test report still shows ‘goals’ or ‘reference ranges’ I’ve included them here. But these old goals are not what determines statin medication any longer.  My doctor made her recommendation about whether we continue to treat my high cholesterol with lifestyle (daily exercise and cholesterol-lowering diet) or need a statin was based on my 10 year risk of heart-disease (my calculated ASCVD risk) along with the zero score of my Coronary Calcium test.

While a coronary calcium score may not be warranted for everyone, each and every one of us can EASILY use the ASCVD calculator and understand their risk of cardiac disease.

Here’s how mine worked. Using the ASCVD app on her phone, my doctor calculated my personal 10-year risk of heart disease at 1.9%. The ‘optimal’ risk level is 1.0% so mine is higher than optimal but still far below the 5% risk where statin medication is indicated to lower cholesterol. This is further supported by my zero score on the coronary calcium test. Based on these results the mandate is for me to continue to manage my high cholesterol with diet and exercise.

Calculating your heart disease risk is easy with the ASCVD online calculator or their phone app.  If you do not have cardiac disease and have an LDL score <190 mg/dL, use the handy calculator to understand your risk of heart disease, so you can discuss treatment plans confidently with your doctor.  See my post What’s Your Heart Disease Risk for links and more information.

 

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