Thursday, May 17, 2007

Like father, like daughter.

My father died from a heart attack at 34. I was 7; now I'm 32. In my father's family, only his mother made it past 40. Most of his family suffered a stroke or heart attack with record high cholesterol levels. The story goes as follows... My mom got a call from my father's doctor. His doctor wanted my father to have his cholesterol rechecked. The original numbers were so high that the doctor thought they were a mistake. My father, who had undiagnosed bipolar disorder, wasn't interested in the doctor's concerns and frequently boasted that he didn't want to live a long life anyway. Almost a year later, while he was unloading produce from his delivery truck, he had a severe heart attack, fell off the back of the truck, and died.

Tuesday, I had blood drawn to get my own lipid profile. The numbers came back early Wednesday. My doctor was alarmed, to say the least. I have placed the values considered within the normal range in parentheses.

Total Cholesterol: 319 (<200)
HDL, a.k.a. good cholesterol: 46 (40-60)
LDL, a.k.a bad cholesterol: 254 (<100)

I didn't want a long life, anyway.

27 comments:

Julia said...

Geez, Nicole. This really sucks. I am sorry.
Are they putting you on meds?

BTW, that last crack? Not funny!

Baby Blues said...

I've read in articles that women's estrogen protects us from having a heart attack until we hit menopause. That's why there are more men suffering heart attacks, but women's incidence increases after menopause.

Now that you know you're at risk, you have more reasons to start doing something about it Nicole. Yes, last crack wasn't funny.

Eating oatmeal could help. And you have good reasons to start going to the gym or taking walks daily. Good luck.

Bumble said...

Shitzen. I'm sorry you lost your dad so young Nicole. And I'm sorry you're results have come back like this. But I'm glad they've found it out now while you still have time to fix it. Cholesterol can be lowered by eating the right stuff apparently. You're going to be old and grey and sit in your rocking chair while watching your grandkids play in the yard. x

Sara said...

Oh, yuck. That's not good news - but you can do something about it now that you know. You're seeing a cardiologist pretty soon, right, I hope?

Not not funny - you know what I'm talking about.

My Reality said...

I hope you don't follow after your father with everything.

Now that you know, you can try to fix it, at least somewhat.

I am sorry you have to deal with this on top of everything else.

Dino aka Katy said...

I guess I get to say join the club. My lipid profile looks like hell - has for years. And because I am trying to get pregnant there are not many meds I can take and the one I am taking aren't working. My numbers just came back and they are still bad

Emilija said...

Things have changed a lot with heart disease. There is a lot more they can do to prevent it. Lots of good drugs for cholesterol. If they put you on a statin, just make sure that you take coenzyme Q10 with it. Statins block the production of coQ10- which is good for the heart.

Jackie said...

Based on your family history, it would seem bad cholesterol is in the genes. There are therapies out there, hopefully you can find the right one and soon. I don't know how much diet and exercise can help with true genetic hypercholesterolemia. I'm not saying it won't help, but it may not help as much as the meds. Unfortunately, as Katy says, not many of the good meds are compatible with pregnancy/nursing. I hope you can get under the care of a good preventive cardiologist ASAP-and that he or she can find the right therapy for you, compatible with your familial goals.
Nicole, I'm sorry that everywhere you turn you just seem to get worse news...this truly sucks rocks.

ultimatejourney said...

Ack, I'm sorry. I agree with the others -- you can still do something about this problem. I want to see you live a long and happy life.

dmarie said...

I'm so sorry. Yet another thing to deal with, and that really sucks. Continue to be strong. Fight hard.

Renee said...

I've got a family history too...so I should go get checked...but I do have some things on my side.

I'm sure the doc put you on meds and recommended a diet. right?

DD said...

I know that you and your father had some similarities, but do you want people to always think, "Just like her father..." if you had a short life?

I certainly hope you have filled a prescription for the cholesterol. I like having you around.

Adrienne said...

Get thee on Cre.stor, ASAP! My husband has a similar family history. Diet does nothing to control it. Only this lovely new class of drugs. Get on it and stay on it. (Gets off soap box...)

Amelie said...

I'm sorry, Nicole. Yet another medical issue is really not what you need.

Carrie said...

I'm sorry. You don't need something else to worry about. Hope there are ways of addressing this.
It's ok to be like your father, but different. It doesn't have to be the same.

Sarah said...

i had a very similar result when i was about 25. the doc said at my age it must be genetic. although i'm normally v lazy about these things, it scared me so much i took on a major diet change, cut out all animal fats: all meat, all dairy, seafood, eggs. plus i cut out anything with saturated fats like chips or even most crackers and other preackaged snacks. my LDL dropped over 100 points within six months. even though i have worked back to a normal diet, my cholesterol has stayed on target.

you CAN do it. it wasn't even as hard as it sounds. i could still eat an entire chocolate cake for dinner if i wanted to, as long as it didn't have those really bad fats they put into preserved foods. i didn't even lose much weight.

BerryBird said...

Oh, Nicole, that sucks. I used to have a high HDL that the doctor attributed to eating so much albacore tuna, but what with the mercury, I'm not sure that's a good idea any more. I hope you find some meds you can safely take.

thrice said...

That sucks.

But, when you are ready to come out, join the fight with me. I need a buddy.

Get to a *good* cardiologist ASAP. If you have to wait 3 months to see the right one, it's okay. Ask about a CT scan. A CT scan will show how much calcification your arteries have. Start taking omega 3's. Studies that are still in the works are showing tremendous benefits, including for mental health. I take 1000 mg 4x per day. Seriously, get on your treadmill. Longer is better. If you feel like you don't have the strength to start or continue, lower the pace. Anything is better than nothing. I know this is *so* hard, but attack this, by what *you* can do. You can't change your genetics, but you can change meds, your diet, your exercise regime, your outlook. Your future family is depending on you. You can do this. I'm here to help.

Just as a side note, your readers should know that coronary heart disease is just *one* type of heart disease. There are cardiomyopathies (heart failure) and electrical issues that are life threatening as well. Heart disease in the US, kills 1 out of 2.4 women.

serenity said...

Um yeah. What the others said.

Believe it or not, you DO have some power over fixing those numbers.

I hope you take the challenge. I like having you around too.

Sara said...

Remember, too, that pregnancy causes a BIG jump in cholesterol numbers -- one that doesn't go down right away, even when the pregnancy ends.

My primary care doc said she doesn't trust any result taken within several months of the end of a pregnancy or the end of breastfeeding.

Not to make light of it; I know its been high before, but right now isn't the best time to take a picture of your lipid profile...

Dianne/Flutter said...

Goodness....what are they going to do for you?

P.S. The last crack, not funny. :(

Casey said...

Well, crap. I'm sorry, Nicole.

Aurelia said...

Okay, I like what the pp Sara said about pregnancy affecting the numbers. I've heard this too.

But just to be contrarian about the diet thing, I'm going to tell you that you can make a difference, and I have a study or two up my sleeve to prove it. Do you remember my BIL? Who had really bad cholesterol and the multiple bypasses and only took meds but never did anything for his lifestyle?

Well, my dear, he is a fool. Don't be him. Studies of people who have hypercholesterolemia prove that a strict vegetarian-fish diet alone can drop those numbers really dramatically. (I know you know the science on this, but I can find the studies if you want.) Add the meds and you will live a long and healthy life.

My MIL had the cholesterol gene, and was bipolar and raised 7 kids, and lived a long and happy life. If she can do it, so can you.

(And if you make another crack like that one at the end, I'll drive down to your town and hug you til promise not to ever ever say that again!!!)

megan said...

not amusing, ms. nicole! don't make me get into a car with Aurelia and come and hug you until you take that back!

sorry to hear that you have another medical issue on your plate. i don't have any advice for you...what about talking to a nutritionist? the other commenters are right about one thing though -- you've plenty of time to do something to fix this be that be drugs, diet, or both.

The Road Less Travelled said...

Talk about a kick in the pants.((hugs)).

Caroline said...

Nicole, please take care of yourself. Every little step you can make towards lowering your cholesterol will be a big improvement. You took a big step in finding out the unknown. Now it is time to fix it. This is something you can do!

Dream Writer said...

I understand your concerns. Heart Disease RUNS in my family BIG TIME!! My dad had 6 bypasses at the same time (ALL AT ONCE!) and my grandfather, Uncle, and Aunt had a Triple Bypass.

Walk, walk, walk..walking is good for the heart and...go to the Americanheartassociatin.org...they have awesome recipes.

I'm with ya, and I am working on reducing the risk of heart disease for myself :)