Archive for 'cholesterol'

My lipid panel indicated very low total cholesterol and even LDLs were lower than my cardiologist was happy with. At the time my Crestor intake of 20mg a day, coupled with 1 gram of Niaspan, and a strict diet and heavy exercise problem lead to these results.

The high reverse t3 levels (rt3) are a result of a restricted diet with over training. To verify there was no issue the reader will note in the results a lab draw on 10/12 that measured Iodine. The link discusses the relationship between Iodine and the thyroid gland.

Very low cholesterol has been tied to issues with memory loss and dementia, as well as other health issues. While many TRT specialists aim for a total cholesterol of 180 mg/dL I believe the body can function with lower levels. The thinking goes something like this. See the hormone tree below:

Note the cleaving enzyme that cleaves cholesterol into pregnenolone and then on down the steroid pathway. Without enough cholesterol there is not enough fuel for the remaining hormonal system, right? True – to a point.

The reality is everyone is different and that 180 mg/dL is not some magic number or target. For some, 120 may work fine, or even lower. The worry is that patients will remain non-compliant with cholesterol lowering medications without doctor supervision in an effort to “jump-start” their own testosterone or maximize hormone fuel by boosting cholesterol. The warning here is…be careful.

I lowered my dose to 5mg of cholesterol and purchased a cholesterol meter that measures Total Cholesterol, Triglycerides (TG), and HDL. This allows LDL to be calculated using the formula LDL Cholesterol = Total Cholesterol – HDL – (TG / 5). I ensure I am always above 120 and I am doing just fine. If I hit 180, I don’t panic. I get by without any problems with frequent exercise and some sanity in my diet.

Not shown in this lab that did show up on previous labs is an increase in hematocrit and RBC leading to polycythemia – an increase in red blood cell count per unit blood volume. This increases the risk of clot formation. If you have heart disease, watch out for this side effect. More often seen on shot therapy for TRT, it can happen even with gels. Treatment usually involves blood letting, a procedure that can be ordered by your doctor. Also, it helps to cease TRT treatment every 12-18 months for a short period of time.

As far as the testosterone levels go, I was on 1.5 tubes of Testim for this test, applied in the morning, and the blood work done 2 hours after application. My testosterone was screaming high at over 1400ng/dl. This level is a false reading as a future lab would indicate.

WARNING: Never apply Testim or any gel to the area where the blood draw will occur. This can taint the results. This is what happened for this particular test. I had to ignore the results.


Statins, C-Reactive Protein, and Plaque Stabilization

Update: In the comment section of this blog, reader Angus asks what supplements I do use. I mention N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) due to its proven liver protection. I would also like to add to that Resveratrol – basically the stuff you find in red wine but in a pill so you don’t need the alcohol. It does have a great deal of supportive evidence for cardiovascular health, but I would talk to your doctor before trying it just to ensure it will not interfere with current medications. I have noted a slight increase in blood pressure (about 3%-5%). I have tried various brands and have found them to be similar in terms of an increase in exercise tolerance. The only real difference seems to be the price. Some of it costs $80 a bottle, some are less than $50 a bottle. It has been featured on 60 minutes, Oprah, CNN, and a host of other channels. A Harvard study heralded Resveratrol as the best thing in medicine since antibiotics.

Almost everyone believes the main purpose of statins is to lower cholesterol and this lowering reduces the risk of a cardiovascular event. However, how do we explain heart attack victims with normal cholesterol levels? While there are many culprits, one of the main areas of interest is C-Reactive Protein, or CRP for short. Measuring your CRP level can be a good indicator of inflammation, and inflammation leads to unstable plaque. So what if you could lower your CRP levels and stabilize your plaque? Your chances of a cardiovascular event decreases significantly. Read Decreasing Markers Of Inflammation Is As Important For Statin Action As Decreasing Ldl Cholesterol (Jupiter Study). From Medical News Today:

A follow-up study on the JUPITER* trial has revealed that a key component of the action of statins is reduction of high sensitivity c-reactive protein (hsCRP), a marker of inflammation, as well as reducing levels of bad cholesterol. The findings are published in an Article published Online First and in an upcoming edition of The Lancet. Publication of the Article coincides with the announcement of the findings at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) meeting in Florida, USA.

Present guidelines for statin therapy emphasise the goal of reducing LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol. However, statin therapy works best in the presence of inflammation, which is characterised by increased concentrations of the biomarker hsCRP. It is thought that reducing levels of hsCRP helps prevent inflammatory cell adhesion – the process by which inflammation promotes cells sticking together and forming plaques in arteries. Reducing hsCRP could also help by preventing these cells sticking to the endothelium (or inner lining) of the artery, and favourably affect metal-containing enzymes key to plaque stability.

I still recall the days when the reputation of statins was stained by alternative medicine and even some doctors. I also recall listening to those “reports” which showed that taking more of this or that vitamin or herb would have the same effect. Listening to junk science is why I am in the situation I am today. While I do agree there is some evidence for alternative therapies to treat various illnesses, the lack of FDA control on the quality of these supplements amounts to a patient playing Russian Roulette with their health. That is why I do quite a bit of research and self-testing prior to settling on a brand. For NAC I use the GNC brand and Resveratrol Select is my choice or Resveratrol as it provides excellent benefits for less cost than Resveratrol that has some doctor’s endorsement – which basically means they are getting paid to promote one product over another and that cost is being passed on to you.

I am also aware that statins are not for everyone. However, if one heeds the warnings and regularly checks their liver function, statins are safe. I am far more concerned about the Plavix I am on and any future non-elective surgeries I may require than I am about Crestor. Also, if you read My Story, you will note that my CRP levels are extremely low – .5mg/L, with anything less than 1mg/L considered low.

So don’t listen to the negative talk from so-called experts who are out to sell you their latest non-prescription cure for your ailment without doing a lot of research first. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with adding an alternative approach as a complement to medical therapy as long as your doctor is aware of any other supplements you are taking. Don’t play around with your health, or you may not have it for long.