Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
Tags: cholesterol | ldl | statin | drug | fiber

Help Me Lower My Cholesterol

Tuesday, 10 April 2012 09:16 AM

Question: I have come to trust your opinion very much, and I wanted to ask you about high cholesterol. What would be good alternative treatments for lowering triglycerides and LDL? I have been told to start statins, but I’d like to try other things first.

Dr. Hibberd's answer:
Whether you need to be on a statin drug depends on your cholesterol level along with your other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. If you have high cholesterol, meaning your total cholesterol level is 240 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) (6.22 millimoles per liter, or mmol/L) or higher, or your low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL, or "bad" cholesterol) level is 130 mg/dL (3.37 mmol/L) or higher, your doctor may recommend you begin to take a statin. But the numbers alone won't tell you or your doctor the whole story. If the only risk factor you have is high cholesterol, you may not need medication because your risk of heart attack and stroke could otherwise be low. High cholesterol is only one of a number of risk factors for heart attack and stroke.
Lifestyle changes are essential for reducing your risk of heart disease, whether you take a statin or not. Lifestyle changes you should consider making include: quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet that's low in fat, cholesterol and salt, exercising 30 minutes a day on most days of the week, and reducing stress. Adding supplements like barley, psyllium, red rice, fish oil, and flaxseed may lower your cholesterol.
If you're following the recommended lifestyle modifications advised to you, but your cholesterol — particularly your LDL cholesterol remains high, statins might be an option for you.
A diet high in soluble fiber (not insoluble fiber) will help reduce your cholesterol values by as much as 10-20 percent, and is always a valuable adjunct to high cholesterol management, As an example for those that prefer supplements to provide soluble fiber, metamucil (its active fiber is psillium) taken as 1 tbsp 2-3 times daily will help achieve your aims. Try to achieve a diet of 30-40 grams of fiber a day, and the more of it that is soluble the better. Unfortunately, insoluble fiber does not improve cholesterol values, Soluble fiber is heart and colon healthy and is widely available in inexpensive grains, fruits, and vegetables as well as in supplement form. A dietitian consultation may be appropriate for those who need customizing or further individualized advice.

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Whether you need to be on a statin drug depends on a variety of factors along with your cholesterol levels.
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 09:16 AM
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