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Weekend Personal Finance Review – High Cholesterol Edition

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My wife got a cholesterol test yesterday. We've known that she's had high cholesterol in the past, but this was off the charts bad. As some people know, the ratio of good to bad cholesterol is also important. Unfortunately this number isn't on her side either. I've spent the morning researching what can be done to improve her numbers. Sadly, she's doing a lot of the recommended things already. I did get a few ideas to ask the doctor about - one of which will be increasing her garlic intake.

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5 Responses to “Weekend Personal Finance Review – High Cholesterol Edition”

  1. Sue says:

    One of the least talked about, and most effective aids for reducing bad cholesterol is plain old porridge oats, or do Americans call it oatmeal? A bowl of this hot breakfast two or three times a week works real magic, is cheaper than most shop bought alternatives. Add it to the garlic and I’m sure you will find your wife has wonderful results.
    Also you might like your doctor to check your wife’s thyroid function as this, if it is under or over active, can send your cholesterol rocketing, as your own body makes cholesterol just as much as you ingest it.

  2. Lazy Man says:

    Oatmeal is her favorite breakfast and has it about 5 days a week – plus a couple of times for lunch. I’m looking into more things that we can do, but it will likely result in a Lipitor prescription. You’ll be able to follow the story on Lazy Man and Health.

  3. Irina says:

    L-Man, four months ago I had my Cholesterol at 220 ago and I was able to lower it to 175 just in four months. Personally, I would use chemical drugs as an absolutely last resort. There are many things you can do in addition to oatmeal which is wonderful. I eat it too almost every day!
    As for other ideas, this site was helpful to me: http://www.lef.org and here is specifically re: cholesterol http://www.lef.org/protocols/prtcl-032.shtml I hope you will be able to take some ideas from them and get your wife’s cholesterol under control in no time.

  4. Wenchypoo says:

    Re the cholesterol issue: try increasing her fiber intake (which prevents fat from getting into the bloodstream and settling in the liver) and increasing B-vitamins carefully (too much can cause allergic reactions). My husband’s stubborn cholesterol is finally in line after this homemade version of Lipitor. I used psyllium seed husks (available from health food stores) as the source of fiber, and put it in nearly everything he ate, and added a separate B-complex pill to his medication regimen. After a year, his numbers are better than the Lipitor-swilling doctor he goes to for testing!

    I even get fiber in his ground meat by pre-cooking it, adding the fiber powder (about 1/3 cup for a cooked pound) and stirring it until it’s no longer visible. Psyllium has no taste or smell, so it’s great for seasoning, adding to meat loaf mixtures, and I even put it in my homemade cat food.

    A natural version to the B-vitamin complex is something called “nutritional yeast” (also available in health food stores) that adds B vitamins to cooked meats and other foods. It has a smell and taste until it’s thoroughly mixed in with the food, and can be used as the psyllium seed husk.

    I keep a cannister of a fiber/yeast mix in my cupboard with a 1/3 cup scooper in it for general use–this mix (a 50/50 ratio of fiber to yeast) gets used for all baking and practically all cooking. This will increase the trips to the bathroom, and increase the amount of toilet paper purchases, but it’s a small price to pay for health. My cats even have decent cholesterol numbers, and yes, they use the catbox more frequently, and I must change the litter more often. That’s life if you want good health.

  5. kitty says:

    I’d prefer outbran to oatmeal – I read somewhere that it is more effective. Almonds are good too – there was a study on that.

    If you are considering drugs keep in mind two things: 1) the evidence for benefit for primary prevention in women isn’t that great. I suggest that you review the studies yourself – ignore web sites from vitamin sellers, just look at the evidence. You only need to read abstracts, so it isn’t that difficult especially with your CS background (I assume you had basic probability/statistics). 2) figure out your wife’s actual absolute risk of heart attack within next 10 years given her age, family history, weight, blood pressure, etc. American Heart Association website has a calculator. Many doctors misuse relative risk reduction numbers. “Reducing cholesterol by X will reduce your risk of heart attack by 30%” may sound impressive, but it is totally meaningless unless you know what this risk is. If the absolute risk of having a heart attack within next 10 years is only 1%, than 30% reduction simply means reducing risk from 1% to .7%. Not that impressive.

    Keep the whole business of absolute risk vs relative risk in mind when thinking of cholesterol. It is a risk factor for heart desease. Lately – after the results of the ENHANCE trial – there have been some questions about whether statins work by reducing cholesterol or by reducing inflammation and if cholesterol really increases risk of heart attacks. Here are some interesting discussions in doctors’ blogs on the subject: http://dinosaurmusings.blogspot.com/2008/01/another-nail-in-coffin-of-correlation.html
    http://www.medrants.com/index.php/archives/3446

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