Medical Q&As

Cholesterol high - options?

I got my cholesterol tested in July 2001 and it was 8.0. I cut out animal fats and dairy products completely and I got tested again recently. My second test read 7.9 virtually no improvement. My GP says that he can put me on medication to breakdown the cholesterol, but I am reluctant to go on any long-term medication. My blood pressure and ECG were normal and I am a non-smoker for over 12 years. I am 50 years old and I exercise 3 or 4 times per week. What are my options?

Your most recent cholesterol level of 7.9 is high and is above the recommended limits. You have certainly tried very hard to reduce your cholesterol level by dietary means however, the fact that you have not reduced it significantly indicates that most of the cholesterol in your body is being manufactured within your liver and is not coming from dietary sources. It is very difficult and almost impossible for most people with high levels of cholesterol to reduce their fat levels through diet alone. I think that your GP is correct when he suggests prescribing a tablet for you. I would assume that the tablet he is contemplating prescribing for you is from the statin family of drugs. Statins are very effective in reducing cholesterol and they have a very good safety profile and are well tolerated by most people. If you take this drug you can reasonably expect your cholesterol level to reduce within the next three months. Most doctors aim for reducing cholesterol down to 5.0, which is significantly below your current level. I donít mean to strike a negative note but I donít think it will be possible for you to reduce your cholesterol level to desired levels through dietary means alone. You should discuss your concerns about long-term medication with your GP so that your fears can be allayed.