Medical Q&As

Cholesterol - disappointed with result?

I am a 49-year-old male. I do not smoke and I have never had a serious illness. I went to the doctor last week and he informed me that I have a cholesterol level of 6.1. I have kept to a great diet for years and I am disappointed with the news. Am I a serious case? Please advise me on a diet to eliminate it. How long does it take to rid myself of it?

I think that you are labouring under a number of misconceptions with regard to cholesterol. Firstly, you cannot get rid of it: you can only reduce it. Cholesterol is an essential fat and if you had no cholesterol in your body that state would be totally incompatible with life. Cholesterol is an essential building block for many other chemicals within the body. If cholesterol were absent from the body these essential compounds could not be manufactured. A second important point for you to take on board is that most of the cholesterol contained within our bodies is manufactured within the liver and does not come from the food we eat. Therefore your sense of disappointment is inappropriate. Itís not your fault that your cholesterol is high. The 6.1 level of cholesterol that you refer to in your question is above recommended levels but it is not excessively high. I would most definitely not consider your measurement as being a serious cause for concern. The general consensus is that we recommend that cholesterol levels should be down around 5, which is not too far off your current level of 6.1. You should read through our cholesterol clinic and in particular focus on the section that deals with lowering your cholesterol level, which can be accessed though the following link: http://www.irishhealth.com/clin/cholesterol/chol_eating.html. You might also find it informative to access the website of the Irish Heart Foundation, which can be accessed at: http://www.irishheart.ie/. I donít wish to pre-judge matters but the possibility exists that it might be possible to reduce your cholesterol level through dietary modification alone. If that does not succeed there are very effective cholesterol lowering agents available. These drugs are known as statins and they can have a very dramatic effect on reducing cholesterol levels.