Tom is a 55-year-old man who led a relatively healthy lifestyle, but routine blood tests revealed that his cholesterol and triglycerides levels were too high. His doctor prescribed him atorvastatin 40 mg to be taken every day before going to bed.
Statins are a group of drugs that lower cholesterol levels in the blood by blocking an enzyme responsible for its production in the liver.
Atorvastatin works by blocking the HMG-CoAreductase enzyme, which is responsible for cholesterol production in the liver. Compared to other drugs in the same group, atorvastatin is more effective at lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels and has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. However, atorvastatin can also cause side effects such as muscle pain, weakness, and liver damage.
Soon after starting the medication, Tom began to experience muscle pain, which became increasingly severe, particularly in his legs, to the point where he could hardly walk. He visited various medical specialists, but no remedy could relieve his discomfort. Eventually, he found a doctor who decided to reduce his dosage to 20 mg per day, and after a couple of months, his blood fat levels were under control, but he still experienced some pain in his legs.
Tom refused to give up and continued his search for a cure that could keep his cholesterol levels under control without causing debilitating side effects. After consulting with several specialists, he met a doctor in San Diego who suggested switching to pravastatin. Pravastatin, like atorvastatin, blocks the HMG-CoAreductase enzyme, but it is less potent and causes fewer side effects.
Tom began the new treatment with pravastatin 20 mg per day. After six months of treatment, he managed to keep his cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control without any side effects. He was delighted that the pain in his legs disappeared, and he no longer experienced the slight but constant headache that he had with atorvastatin.
Tom’s lifestyle changes
Tom realized that while medication is an essential factor in maintaining good health, other lifestyle factors are equally important. He learned that a healthy diet, regular exercise, and avoiding bad habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption play a significant role in keeping cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control. He felt grateful that he could enjoy his life again without any discomfort or limitations.
Tom’s success in managing his cholesterol levels with pravastatin inspired him to make other lifestyle changes. He started incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into his diet and cut down on foods high in saturated and trans fats. He also started taking daily walks around his neighborhood and even joined a local gym to add more regular exercise into his routine.
Over time, Tom’s efforts paid off, and he was able to maintain healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels without the need for medication. He felt more energetic and was able to do things he hadn’t been able to do in years, such as going on hiking trips and playing sports with his grandchildren.
Tom became an advocate for a healthy lifestyle, sharing his story with friends and family and encouraging them to make similar changes. He realized that managing his cholesterol levels wasn’t just about taking medication, but it was a holistic approach that included healthy eating, regular exercise, and other lifestyle changes.
New Tom’s low-cholesterol diet
Here is a list of foods Tom deleted from his diet as well as the reasons why he did that.
- Red Meat – Red meat such as beef, lamb, and pork are high in saturated and trans fats, which can increase LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Processed Meat – Processed meat like bacon, sausage, and deli meats are also high in saturated and trans fats and should be limited or avoided altogether.
- Butter – Butter is high in saturated fats and should be used in moderation. Olive oil or avocado are healthier alternatives.
- Cheese – Cheese is also high in saturated fats and can raise LDL cholesterol levels. Low-fat cheese options may be a better for people who like a lot this type of food.
- Fried Foods – French fries, fried chicken and onion rings are your arteries’ worst enemy.
- Egg Yolks – Egg yolks are high in cholesterol and should be limited to no more than two per week for individuals with high level of cholesterol.
- Shellfish – Shellfish such as shrimp and lobster are high in cholesterol and should be consumed in moderation.
- Baked Goods – Cakes, cookies and pastries are a prime example of foods containing trans fats, and cardiologists encourage their patients to eliminate them from their diet permanently.
In the end, Tom’s journey showed that with the right mindset, commitment, and support, it is possible to manage cholesterol levels and enjoy a healthy, fulfilling life. He was grateful for the experience and proud of the positive changes he had made in his life.