Monday, April 25, 2011

Know Your Inside Numbers

Often times in this journey of weight loss and getting healthy the focus is so much on the numbers on the scale or the inches around various body parts. I sure think about those outside numbers. But I also think about my inside numbers almost constantly.

My inside numbers are my cholesterol numbers and my blood pressure. There are other inside numbers. There's blood sugar levels, hormone levels, thyroid levels, etc. There is a reason I watch after my blood pressure and more importantly my cholesterol numbers. I have Familial Hypercholesterolemia. OK! I know that is a big word to digest. It pretty much means that I have high cholesterol that isn't completely influenced by what foods I eat and how much exercise I get. I inherited how my body responds to cholesterol. (There is a much more detailed explanation on Wikipedia; see link)

So like most of us that watch what the scales say and what the measuring tape tells us, I fast for twelve hours, get up early in the morning to get a few vials of blood drawn from my arm. And then I wait. I wait for the doctors office to post my numbers online for my viewing only.

I have been on cholesterol lowering medication for almost ten years. Ten years ago when I was first put on the medication, my total cholesterol (the only number I always remember) was somewhere around 375mg/dL! According to the American Heart Association, total cholesterol should be under 200mg/dL.
The thing about being on the medication is that I was so young...I am still very much younger than they typical average age of people on the same type of medication. When I would show up for my appointments with my cardiologist, I was almost always the youngest one in the waiting room by probably 40 years.

I've seen three separate cardiologists in the past ten years because I've moved.  I was prescribed one of those cholesterol medications that advertise themselves to greying retired men in their 60s. I had to stop taking that due to an insurance change. The two meds I am on right now have lowered my cholesterol to its lowest levels ever. My total cholesterol was last recorded a year ago at 164mg/dL. I was finally referred by my cardiologist to not see her anymore! I go in for this year's blood test sometime this week before next week's appointment with my new primary.

Even though my total cholesterol is at a good number now, I will likely have to stay on medication for the rest of my life. Sure I can get my numbers down by losing weight but they will never be as low as they are right now without the meds.  I will have to go off the meds when my hubby and I want to start having children. The medications have been known to cause birth defects because the fetus does not receive enough cholesterol to develop correctly. Losing weight will help me manage my cholesterol with less medication. I am hoping I make that goal somewhat soon.

So, do you know your numbers? Has your cholesterol been tested in the past ten years? Most of my aquaintences do not know their numbers and the ones that do usually found out because they asked their doctors to take the tests, they had to take the tests for life insurance, or they found out during a random office health check up. Did you know Heart Disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women? Heart Disease kills more people each year than all the cancer deaths combined and in most cases, we have control over it. So please, check out the American Heart Association's website and please get to know your numbers. Your heart will thank you for it!


  1. this is so important. if you are on something for things like cholesterol or thyroid its amazing how missing even a few doses can effect your numbers. As a type 1 diabetic unlike most people I get these test done every 3 months or so.

  2. I'm heading in for a full physical Friday and have been told to fast as I am due to be checked again. Thanks for the reminder though because I will make doublely sure it is checked!

  3. I had a doc's appointment and a lab test last week. A year ago I was diagnosed with insulin resistance and my cholesterol was apparently little on the high side (not high enough to warrant medication). I have now lost 20 pounds and my cholesterol is back to normal and my insulin resistance is almost normal. My doctor thinks that by losing more weight I can get rid of IR altogether.

    But the interesting thing is, I didn't even notice my high cholesterol number last year until my doc mentioned that this has become better now. You are right, we really need to be more aware of our numbers. Thanks for this post