Every time I get my Remicade my doctor checks my blood, checking among other things liver function, kidney function, and LDL cholesterol. A year ago my LDL was 134 – which was a couple of points above normal. The doctor said it was fine. My next reading about 12 weeks later was 150 and my doctor told me to keep an eye on it. I then started on a Paleo based eating lifestyle (which I found to be very easy) and my LDL jumped to 240. My doctor freaked the f*** out. She wanted to start me on statin drugs right away and said that I had to see another specialist to do this. I said ok (i.e. acknowledging that I heard what she said – not that I agreed to start on statins). I decided to cut back on the full fats and go back to my usual way of healthy eating, although I did keep up the grass-fed butter in coffee first thing in the morning.
I also did some research on statins and what I found did not help me sleep well. If you Google statins you get a whole bunch of websites, all negative about statins, and which seem to fall into 2 categories; 1. the awful side effects of statins, and 2. that statins are the all-time seller of pharmaceutical drugs and that doctors are basically peddling them in order to pad their gifts from drug companies or their salaries. Oh, and I also found some sites where doctors said that there was no real proven benefit from them! So what to do? Not take them and live with the fear that I may have a heart attack? Or take them and live with the fear of side effects? Sounds like a “lose lose” situation right?
About the same time I read a great article on Will Brink’s website (www.thebrinkzone.com) by brilliant author Monica about blood testing for Cholesterol. It was a very well researched and written piece that in summary says that just having a high LDL isn’t necessarily bad as it depends on the size of the particle – with smaller ones being dangerous and large ones being ok. She also explained that physicians who are up to date with the most recent research will order a VAP test for patients with high LDL levels in order to ascertain if the particles are large or small.
My next reading about 12 weeks later was 178. Since it was still high my rheumatologist again stressed that I should start on statins. I had printed out the article from Monica and asked if I could do the VAP test. She replied that I should take it up with the specialist. So again I said ok.
I should also note that about 8 weeks before that last remicade dose I had stopped exercising. Why I hear you ask? Well I overdid it with the kettlebells and damaged a ligament (or is it tendon) in my arm, giving myself “tennis elbow”. The sports medicine specialist said I had to stop exercising for at least 3 months! Argh. This wasn’t going to help my cholesterol. No problem I thought, I can do lower body exercises like squats. Then I felt a pulling pain in my groin. Oh no I thought, the only pain like that is from a hernia and that can only be fixed via surgery! I went to see the surgeon and after an ultrasound he announced that I had an extremely tiny bump. My options where to do a surgery or wait to see if it goes away. I asked him if in his experience he had ever seen one go away and he said no! Didn’t fill me with confidence. I left to think about it and after a few days decided that I wouldn’t rest and also wouldn’t have the surgery. I would continue as normal and if it happened to get bigger then I would have a reason to get the surgery. So far it has been ok!
Then 2 weeks ago I fell down some stairs and put a huge gash in my arm. Yeah – guess I’m getting old! And clumsy!
I had my annual checkup 2 days ago and again my LDL was at 174. So not much of a drop since last time and still really high. So I bit the bullet and went to see the doctor about getting some statins. I talked to him about the VAP test and he said he’d never heard of it! Didn’t fill me with confidence. He looked on his system to see if the hospital had such a test and they don’t. Ugh. I’m sick of seeing doctors so I just told him to give me the statins and we’ll review in 3 months. He has started me on 10mg per day.
However there is a bright side to all of this. After I got back to my office I found another article on the brinkzone which stated that in one study statins actually assisted in growth in lean muscle mass when doing resistance training! So that has put me back in a good mood.