Friday, March 27, 2009

Good Blood, Bad Blood

I had my yearly physical a week ago and got the results of my blood test. A little over a year ago I was diagnosed with very high cholesterol and was prescribed statin medication which I decided not to take and to try lowering it with diet and exercise alone. Here's how it's been going:
                 January '08   June '08  August '08  March '09 ***April '11 ***May '12  *August '16  **August '18 ****August '19
Total Cholesterol     289         215         183        195          197        189          221           197          179
LDL Cholesterol       214         121         115        122          115        112          131           110          110
HDL Cholesterol        48          46          42         47           52         43           51            52           46

*   Added August 21, 2018 - darn it, cholesterol is still too high after all these years.
**  Added August 31, 2018 - well, it is headed in the right direction but not far enough.
*** Added October 3, 2018 - Dr. McDougall 10-Day program from 2012
****Added September 20, 2019 - so now LDL between 70 and 189 mg/dL is a reason to consider statin therapy. Ugh.

In November I had it checked at a health fair where I work and got a reading of under 150 but I doubt that was accurate. In any case, I've been successful at keeping it down but it has creeped up since the summer.

I've got to confess that because of that super low reading in November I started getting a bit careless with my diet and exercise. I'm still riding my bicycle and eat mostly vegetarian and low fat, but the dessert bar at work is way too tempting and I tend to gobble down whatever is put in front of me.

Feeling a bit apprehensive over this last exam I decided to do the equivalent of cramming for an exam. I rode my bicycle hard and fast over the hill to work all week and cut out all the fat I could from my meals. I'm not sure if it made a difference on my cholesterol but something else popped up on the blood test:

Hematocrit 40.3


Geez, if it's not one thing it's another! In addition, my blood pressure was rather low. What's up with low blood pressure and anemia?

Well a quick check on the Internet (what did we do before Google?) calmed me down. It turns out that many athletes experience these same symptoms when starting up a strenuous exercise program. So much for cramming for a blood test by over training. In addition, there's a slight chance of vitamin B-12 deficiency that could also cause anemia but I'm not a big fan of popping pills (including vitamin pills) for a quick fix.

I need to go back for another blood test but I won't be cramming for the test.