Did you know that there’s a non-invasive test that can help you and your doctor decide if you truly need a statin medication to lower cholesterol?
It’s called a Coronary Artery Calcium (CAC) Scan. While this test is not right for everyone, if your personal risk of heart disease is uncertain it can help guide your medication decision.
That’s what happened with me, which I wrote about in my 2017 post, Coronary Calcium Scan Illuminates Heart Disease Risk. Since then, the CAC scan is being more widely used and it’s something everyone who falls into the ‘unclear’
It’s startling how much debate and disagreement exists about the guidelines for statin use.
Back in November 2013, new guidelines were published by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. The 2013 guidelines represented a significant shift in cholesterol management: essentially moving away from targeting/treating to a specific cholesterol level and instead encouraging treatment of all individuals with a 10-year risk of heart disease of 7.5% or higher (for specifics, see my post, The NEW guidelines for cholesterol-lowering statin meds).
There then ensued heated arguments over the published Risk Calculator that yields that all-important 10-year level of heart disease risk.
Exercise is one of the key methods for lowering cholesterol – and blood pressure, my new concern — without medications. So to reduce my blood pressure and to continue to keep my cholesterol in check without any meds, I’ve been wondering just how much, how hard, and how often I need to exercise.
In researching, I found this nifty chart from the American Heart Association. It’s a little busy, but the key is the bottom-most graphic, which is for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure (how handy that they are together goal-wise!)
Apparently, to lower cholesterol and blood pressure,
With my cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure higher last month, I needed to try to salvage things before my doctor(s) advise statins and/or blood pressure medication. Step one: a lo-co lifestyle exercise and diet review (and correction):
Exercise. I’d let my exercise habit lapse in the past six months, so have recently re-started exercising daily. Of course today I pulled my hamstring. Sigh. But I am determined to at least walk daily, because ‘Study Proves Exercise Staves Off Bad Cholesterol.’
Diet – General. While I don’t eat a lot of red meat, I do eat a lot of carbs (pasta and bread) and sugar (M&Ms and wine).
A new study published in March 2016 by McGill University’s George Thanassoulis, MD in the Circulation journal of the American Heart Association suggests that many identified as ‘Low Risk’ by the latest cholesterol treatment guidelines should be taking cholesterol-lowering statins.
The current guidelines for treating cholesterol, published with much fanfare and controversy in November 2013, moved away from targeting treatment to reach a specific cholesterol level and instead include a ‘calculator’ that measures risk. If a person’s risk is lower than 7.5% chance of heart disease in 10 years, statins are NOT recommended. (Details, including a link to the calculator,