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How Do I Manage My Cholesterol?

Dr. Binh An P. Phan & David Najman March 04, 2010 1:00 PM This chat has ended. Thank you for participating.
Moderator (Moderator) - 12:58 PM:
Welcome! Today’s chat: “How Do I Manage My Cholesterol?”. Please start submitting your questions and Dr. Binh An P. Phan will begin answering them as soon as we get started. While you are waiting for the chat to begin, feel free to visit our Cardiovascular Care Pages to obtain more information.

Dr. Binh An P. Phan (NorthShore) - 1:05 PM:
Hello everyone. I am Dr. Phan, a cardiologist at NorthShore. I am excited to be here and to answer your questions about managing your cholesterol.

sherry - 1:06 PM:
Will an 80% of vegetable and 20% meat meal able to control cholesterol? Do vegetarians not have cholesterol issues?

Dr. Binh An P. Phan (NorthShore):
Sherry, having a heart healthy diet is important in helping to reduce your cholesterol and risk of heart disease. One of the best studied diets that have been found to heart healthy, is the Mediterranean diet which is composed mostly of fruits, vegetables, nuts along with fish. Eating more vegetables and less red meats will help you lower your cholesterol. And some vegetarians do have cholesterol problems. We know that apart from diet, there are genetic factors that contribute to having abnormal cholesterol problems.

Kay (Chicago, Il) - 1:13 PM:
If I were to go strictly "vegan/vegetarian", do I still need to worry about my cholesterol since I was told cholesterol is due to animal products?

Dr. Binh An P. Phan (NorthShore):
Kay, both diet and other factors such as genetics can contribute to having abnormal cholesterol levels. Eating a high amount of animal fat, paricularly red meat, can cause elevated cholesterol levels. But vegans/vegetarians can also develop abnormal cholesterol levels so I would not assume that eating a non-meat diet would mean that you have good cholesterol levels.

Kathie (E. Peoria, IL.) - 1:20 PM:
Does oatmeal actually work for lowering your cholesterol? I've been eating it for a couple months now. I'll be due for a recheck soon. I'm a RN & I want to thank you for your time on here.

Dr. Binh An P. Phan (NorthShore):
Kathie, oatmeal and high fiber diets can be very good for your heart. We know that such diets can help to lower your cholesterol levels. And I applaud you for trying to change your diet to be heart healthy.

Karen (Chicago, IL) - 1:23 PM:
What is the difference between good and bad cholesterol? (HDL/LDL)

Dr. Binh An P. Phan (NorthShore):
Karen, great question. LDL or "bad" cholesterol, when elevated, works to deposit fats into your blood vessels and increases your risk of developing heart disease. We want your LDL to be low. HDL or "good" cholesterol, does the opposite of LDL, and removes fats from the body. Having low HDL or "good" cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease, and we want your HDL to be high.

Robert Ollis (Chicago, Illinois) - 1:27 PM:
Do the popular cholesterol-reducing drugs have negative side effects?

Dr. Binh An P. Phan (NorthShore):
Robert, yes. All medications can have negative side effects including those used to lower cholesterol levels. The most widely used medications are the "statins" and their main negative effects involve the liver and muscle. But studies over the past 40 years in tens of thousand of patients, have shown that statins are very safe and that life threatening problems are extremely rare. Patients on these medications are often followed closely for any possible dangerous side effects.

Sandy (Chicago, IL) - 1:30 PM:
Is there any exercises reduce the cholesterol level ?

Dr. Binh An P. Phan (NorthShore):
Sandy, exercise in combination with a heart healthy diet can help lower your cholesterol levels. I would recommend at least 5 days per week of aerobic exercise for 45 minutes. You do not need to run a marathon or swim across Lake Michigan; all you need is an activity that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat a bit. This could be just fast walking. The most important aspect is being consistent with your exericse and sticking with it. Good luck.

Sandy (Northbrook) - 1:35 PM:
How many times a week should someone with high cholesterol eat red meat? Are veal and/or pork better for you?

Dr. Binh An P. Phan (NorthShore):
Sandy, if a person already has high cholesterol, I would suggest trying to stay away from red meat as much as possible. If not possible, I would suggest not eating more than once or twice per week. Pork is not a good alternative and I would recommend trying fish and poultry given that they have lower amounts of bad cholesterol.

Sheila (Chicago, IL) - 1:40 PM:
On a low budget amount or for someone with little money how can I allow myself to eat the recommended foods?

Dr. Binh An P. Phan (NorthShore):
Sheila, I think this is a very good question. Many of the healthier foods such as fruits and vegetables can be more expensive than the high fat foods such as fast food. And for many people, particularly with our current economic situation, find themselves laking the means to buy the most healthy types of food. But still, I think that there are relative easy and cheap steps to take in your diet: buy chicken instead of red meat and eat more fiber with with oatmean/cereal. Also, look at what you are buying now for food, and there may be an lower fat alternative at a similar price.

Joy (Evanston, IL) - 1:48 PM:
Have you heard the term "hyper-responder" to indicate someone who over-responds to any amount of cholesterol in the diet? Is it true that some people should aim at nearly zero cholesterol in the diet?

Dr. Binh An P. Phan (NorthShore):
Joy, I have not heard of the term "hyper-responsder." But there are people who are not able to process cholesterol as well and have abnormaly high levels of cholesterol in their bodies. Most of these people have a form of genetic defect in their cholesterol metabolism. And for these people, I recommend a diet very low in cholesterol.

Moderator (Moderator) - 1:50 PM:
Thank you everyone for your great participation, the chat will be ending in approximately 10 minutes. Please submit any final questions you have.

Joy (Evanston, IL) - 1:52 PM:
Can Niacin reduce LDL levels?

Dr. Binh An P. Phan (NorthShore):
Joy, yes niacin can lower your LDL levels approximately 10-20%. But its greatest impact is in terms of raising HDL or good cholesterol.

Sandy (Chicago, IL) - 1:54 PM:
Since I am living in a cold city, is treadmill ok for walking?

Dr. Binh An P. Phan (NorthShore):
Sandy, yes. Using a treadmill is an excellent alternative to walking outside in the winter.

william leonard (evanston,Il.) - 1:56 PM:
what foods can I eat to lower my cholesterol?

Dr. Binh An P. Phan (NorthShore):
William, there are a number of changes to your diet that can improve your cholesterol. A heart healthy diet would include fruits, vegetables, and nuts with replacement of red meat with fish.

Dr. Binh An P. Phan (NorthShore) - 2:04 PM:
I would like to thank everyone for joining me on this online chat today and for your great questions. I hope that you have found it educational.

Moderator (Moderator) - 2:04 PM:
Thank you again for participating in our chat today. For more information please visit our Cardiovascular Care Pages

Also, a transcript of this chat will be available shortly.
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