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Lost 100lbs, running 20 miles/week, eating well...HDL still low!

Let me start by saying that I'm extremely proud of what I have accomplished so far and that I know I still have much to work on. Losing over 100 pounds by radically changing my eating habits to a more fresh-foods focus and slowly working myself into daily aerobic exercise over the past 2 years has been absolutely the best thing I've ever done in my 38 years of life and I refuse to ever go back to where I was!

As far as my doctor is concerned, I've done everything right. Where we're still trying to make adjustments is related to my seemingly chronic low HDL and high to borderline high Triglycerides numbers. There seems to be a split in the medical community on the relevance of cholesterol numbers to predicting heart disease, but let's assume that they're relevant for the moment. What can I do to improve my numbers so they're in "normal" ranges now that I've proven to myself I can change my lifestyle without really sacrificing anything but 40 minutes a day for exercise and ditching that 3-days-a-week pizza & beer habit?

Here is how my lipid results have trended over time (using just one of the tests per year). Keep in mind, I'm 6'2" and hoping to get down around 195lbs if I can while maintaining a good, healthy, balanced diet. I won't starve myself to meet a weight goal...I eat healthy and exercise and let the weight take care of itself. :-)

2007 - 320lbs, TC (183), LDL (unk), HDL (15), Trigs (406), Glucose (102), Ratio (12.2)
2008 - 295lbs, TC (212), LDL (118), HDL (25), Trigs (351), Glucose (104), Ratio (8.4)
2009 - 262lbs, TC (126), LDL (50), HDL (19), Trigs (289), Glucose (101), Ratio (6.6)
early-2010 - 252lbs, TC (104), LDL (51), HDL (22), Trigs (153), Glucose (98 ), Ratio (4.7)
late-2010 - 213.5lbs, other numbers pending.

My latest test is pending...just had blood drawn yesterday and the scale showed 213.5lbs, so maybe even more improvement over the early-2010 numbers??

Also, the good doctor put me on BP medicine due to 150/98 readings in the first few office visits (down to half of a Benicar HCT pill each day with 115/70 a pretty common reading and a resting HR of 54bpm - down from 82bpm at my most inactive phase) and on Simcor 1000/20 (1g niaspan and 20mg simvastatin, daily). Started the Simcor in February with no huge spike upwards in HDL, but sticking with it to see if it has made any difference along with exercise over the last 8 months.

Other ideas for boosting HDL in a meaningful way, or am I pretty much stuck with the 20's and any potential CVD risk that comes with it?

Thanks for any insight or ideas!
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replied February 3rd, 2011
Hello, and thanks for your medical question on E Health Forum.

From the detailed history, It seems that you have been successful in improving your health and lab results over time. And you will achieve your goals with patience and persistance.

Raising your HDL levels can be a challenge, because it usually requires lifestyle changes rather than simply taking a pill. Weight watchers on a ultra-low-fat diet tend to have significant reduction in HDL cholesterol.

Some dietary measures to improve HDL levels include intake of cranberry juice, Fish, omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

Aerobic exercise (any exercise, such as walking, jogging or bike riding, that raises your heart rate for 20 to 30 minutes at a time) may be the most effective way to increase HDL levels.

Mild Alcohol intake: one or two drinks per day can significantly increase HDL levels.

Some other measures that help in gaining HDL include Losing weight, giving up smoking, and cutting out the dietary trans fatty acids (partially hydrogenated vegetable oils).

I hope this helps.

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