Dr. Lyle describes a memorable experience he shared with a patient who came to him with unhealthy cholesterol levels. For more on Heart Disease heart-disease.
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Dr. Lyle's High Cholesterol Patient Experience One of the great things about treating cholesterol and coronary disease is that we know that we have the ability to impact your cholesterol level. We know that we have the ability to halt the progression of coronary artery disease and we have some trials that show that we can reverse the process of coronary disease. Here at McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Colorado, we take great pride in helping people achieve their cholesterol goals. We do this by multifaceted approach, including diet, exercise, as well as the initiation of medications. I want to tell you about a particular patient here at McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Colorado, that I helped take care of. She came to me concerned about her family history. She had a significant family history of coronary artery disease in both her parents. She also knew that in her own self, that her cholesterol levels were too high. She knew that she had gained 15 pounds over the last year, had not really exercised much throughout the course of her adult life. She was very concerned about where she was and what her risk was going into the next decade. She had young children and she stated to me that she was concerned that she may not be here for her kids if she didn’t address these issues now. She had been a smoker in the past, but had quit and had no other major medical problems. We were able to find that her good cholesterol was particularly low and we also found that her bad cholesterol was particularly high. She had a LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, of 180. She had a good cholesterol level of 30. These were levels that we felt were not at goal and put her at risk for coronary artery disease and we felt that through developing a multifaceted approach for her we were able to make a big impact on the quality of her life. As I had said earlier, the cornerstone of our therapy, particularly for this patient, was the initiation of a diet and exercise program. Adhering to one particular diet I don’t think serves patients well. The only proven diet to be beneficial is the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is a diet high in fruits and vegetables and high in fish and low in red meats and dairy products and saturated fats. Employing that diet, as well as initiating cardiovascular exercise of having this particular patient begin an exercise program of 30 minutes of exercise a day, after we had ruled her out for any evidence of coronary disease with a stress test, she was able to begin an exercise program and was on a path to weight loss as well as improved cardiovascular health. Those two therapies alone had a major impact on her cholesterol levels. We saw her LDL level come down. We saw her HDL cholesterol rise slightly and more importantly we saw weight loss. In the first six weeks she had lost over ten pounds and even more importantly than that she had become hooked on the idea of exercise. She discovered its benefits. She discovered that she had more energy. She discovered that her pants weren’t as tight and she was actually looking at buying some new clothes and she couldn’t remember how she lived without exercise. Instilling these values and this type of diet and exercise modification in people can alone have a big impact. We also started her on a little dose of a cholesterol-lowering medicine, which helped really lower her LDL. We got her LDL level all the way down to 100 from initially from 180 and we were able to do this in approximately eight weeks. We were also able to raise her HDL, her good cholesterol, from 30 all the way up to 37. It may not seem like a major improvement, but small improvements in the HDL cholesterol levels are important and are significant and so, she had had great success in a very short period of time and at the same time, we were able to turn her on to a whole new lifestyle that she had missed as an adult. As this patient’s doctor it made me feel good that I was able to provide her with the tools to
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