Cholesterol in the Arteries
I think you know who I am, but you have rudely ignored me at various stages in your life; when your Dad had a triple bypass operation 20 years ago, he was shaken up and did actually greet me, but you, you decided to cold-shoulder me and my cousin Pension Man, rather feebly telling us that you were too young to have to consider nasty and boring things like cholesterol and pensions. Well I'm back again and I refuse to be ignored this time. I've come to collect on those occasional chocolate bars and those not-so-occasional cakes and biscuits that you so love, which are also some of the worst types of food for building up cholesterol in your arteries.
This is now war and you have 3 choices:-
- You can give up all those cakes and biscuits, reduce your alcohol and red meat consumption, eat less fat and less salt, eat more fruit and vegetables and do plenty of exercise. This probably seems to be very unpalatable but is actually the best long-term solution, although drugs may also be needed to reduce your cholesterol. Say NO to cholesterol now.
- Alternatively you can rely on Statins and / or Fibrates for the rest of your life and carry on eating as you please. This option sounds like the easiest way to go but you are then relying on drugs for the rest of your life. What about the side effects and possible health hazards? A report in the media recently said that people who are on Statins have a small chance of developing lung cancer, and the manufacturers of both Statins and Fibrates say that there are associated problems like stomach cramps, diarrhoea and constipation, etc and you may either have to change drugs or take additional drugs to counter these problems; then of course, these secondary drugs may well have additional unpleasant side effects and you might have to take additional drugs to counter those side effects.
Before you know it, you could be taking several drugs every day and your health could start to deteriorate. There also is the point that Statins cannot be prescribed for patients with heart problems – so if you've grown to rely on Statins and then find that you have heart problems, you would need to stop taking the Statins; now you find yourself considerably fatter, more reliant on all the wrong foods, and older, and then you've got to sort this problem out, all on your own!
- A third alternative is to ignore me again and carry on as normal. Initially when your cholesterol levels get above 20% and you have a well-man test, an alarm gets generated and then you will be asked to discuss your health with your local GP; you will probably be told that you now have a small chance of having a coronary or a brain hemorrhage over the next few years. So you might actually be able to go through your whole life, and live to a good age, eating and drinking what you like, and even smoking sixty cigarettes a day. You do occasionally hear of people who do just that. But as you get older, it becomes more likely that something like a heart attack or brain hemorrhage will happen, and if it does, it will most likely devastate your life.