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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Miscellaneous Cardiology Topics

Question: Cutting cholesterol without drugs

 renkluaf - Sat Dec 08, 2007 10:58 am

I am a 56-year-old male of healthy weight, but a smoker. My doctor recently suggested taking Zocor (simvastatin) for my cholesterol (total = 219, HDL = 40, LDL = 151, Trigl = 139). I had not been exercising when tests showed those results.

I’d be interested in knowing if these numbers could be reduced to healthy levels without drugs. My diet is already pretty good. Less than 30% of my calories are from fat, my saturated-fat intake is less than 20g, and my cholesterol intake is around 20mg per day.

I’m not sure how much I could improve my diet, because the numbers already seem pretty good (although I could probably work more fiber into my diet). But are my cholesterol levels in a range that could be reduced to healthy levels through more exercise, without taking drugs?

Also, if I do try drugs, would a less-expensive statin (i.e. lovastatin or prevastatin) work just as well as simvastatin? Thank you very much.
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:35 pm

User avatar Hi Renklauf,

Normally, diet and exercise changes can improve cholesterol levels. For many people, this alone may simply not be enough. Often one can get about a 10% or so reduction. If the chlesterol level is 250, a 10% reduction alone is simply not enough.

In your case, your numbers are borderline so exercise may be enough. However, if you do opt for this it is important to follow up and make sure that your cholesterol has dropped sufficiently. If not, medications may still be needed.

Regarding which statin to use, all work in basically the same way. Some of the newer ones work a bit better and may have a few less side effects; however, these benefits may not be enough to be significant. I would recommend you discuss with you doctor which one would be appropriate for you.

Even if you choose to use medicines, adding exercise to your program will be beneficial. Exercise helps so many different issues with the body that you'll get benefits more than just lowering your cholesterol. Talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise program to make sure there isn't a reason not to.

Best wishes.
 renkluaf - Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:57 pm

Thank you very much, Dr. Lowe. I appreciate your taking the time to give me your thoughts.

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