Peter Westre: ‘I have been on the Atkins diet for almost 2 years. I lost about a hundred pounds and feel fantastic. I had blood work done in April and my overall cholesterol was 149.’

Jack Ratcliff: ‘Another downside to the statin family of drugs is that in addition to blocking the production of cholesterol in your liver, they also inhibit the natural production of coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 is an essential substance for producing energy in your cells, especially your heart cells. If you decide to continue with Lipitor you should surely begin taking a CoQ10 supplement. Do consider that from 1989 to 1999, the number of congestive heart failure patients nearly doubled. — could statin drugs, which came into wide-spread use during this period, have played a part?

‘Dan Stone gave some great advice about trying diet and exercise for six months before taking any statin drug. He is also correct in suggesting that homocysteine may be just as dangerous as cholesterol. Happily, no risky drugs are needed to address elevated levels of homocysteine. It is due to a deficiency in the B complex vitamins, especially folic acid. In fact, numerous scientific studies have shown that folic acid is North America’s number-one vitamin deficiency so do yourself a favor and get on the B’s.

‘Will diet, exercise and supplements work? They surely did for me. I wrote you several months ago raving about my new Lo-Carb Diet. New tests I had in August showed my cholesterol down from 198 to 162 and give me confidence that I was correct to abandon my ten-year (!) low-fat diet. All I really had to do was substitute a lot of the sugar-laden foods with additional meats, fish, nuts and fresh fruits/veggies. I now eat eggs, which I had avoided like the plague. I work out 3 or 4 times weekly and take lots of supplements that I learned about in Dr. Robert Atkin’s Age-Defying Diet book. I enjoy my diet much more than the low-fat one. I also have to eat a little extra to avoid dropping below my ‘desirable’ weight range — some 20 pounds below my ten-year average weight. I am the first to admit, this low-carb diet, might not work so well for everyone. My doctor was skeptical when I first told him about it but now has to admit ‘it works for some people.”

Marc A. Armstrong, MD: ‘For what it’s worth, I agree with Doctor Stone.’

Emerson Schwartzkopf: ‘One of the marvels of human beings is that we can all be different. After her first diagnosis of heightened bad cholesterol and high blood pressure, my spouse increased her exercise and put both of us on a close-to-no-fat diet (3 grams a day, at times). After three months, she experienced virtually no change. My cholesterol and blood pressure, meanwhile, dropped from acceptable levels to incredibly healthy measurements, although I’m still classified as 25 pounds overweight. She then started on Liptor and blood-pressure medication with immediate and positive results. What works for some people doesn’t work for others, and folks like you and my spouse are healthier and happier now. Exercise and good diet are wise choices in any case, but it’s dangerous to assume that sensible habits fix everything.’

John Mandeville: ‘I lift weights 3 times a week (not free weights) and I do aerobics 6 days a week. I do the weights at 6 am for an hour at a time and the aerobics at 5 pm for an hour. I ride bikes (inside and outside), do stair steppers, and walk. I’m 66 yrs old and cholesterol is about 175 and pressure is 110/70. It is easy for me, because I like it. For those who just don’t like to exercise, it is a lot tougher to get the routine. However, it can be done. One has to stick with it for at least a year. Now if you want your heart to reallllllly feel better, try Habitat For Humanity. It won’t get you to Heaven, but it will give you a big ‘high’ every time you do it.’

☞ Six am? Six am?

Laura Schultz: ‘As a Pfizer shareholder, I was delighted to see you tout the wonders of Lipitor. As a reader concerned about your health, I was extremely disappointed. There is no such thing as a free lunch, or a free ride for that matter, so get out there and walk for your health.’

Tomorrow: Your Next Vacation


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