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DR ELLIE CANNON: Does my cholesterol mean I need statins?



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I have cholesterol blood test and my results are: 6 total cholesterol, 4 good cholesterol and 2.1 for the bad type. What does this mean? Should I consider statins? I am a 67 year old woman.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that builds up in the arteries, and several types have been linked to heart disease.

Years ago, doctors usually only considered total cholesterol levels when thinking about what was healthy.

Now we know that levels of both types – LDL and HDL – are important, and looking at the specific amounts of these two types gives us a more accurate picture of how cholesterol can affect the heart.

This week a 67-year-old woman has written to Dr. Ellie and is worried about her cholesterol levels and wonders if she needs a statin, a picture that is generated by the model

This week a 67-year-old woman has written to Dr. Ellie and is worried about her cholesterol levels and wonders if she needs a statin, a picture that is generated by the model

This type of good cholesterol is called HDL and bad LDL.

More from Dr. Ellie Cannon for The Mail on Sunday …

For a woman, an HDL level above 1.2 is considered healthy. For a man, it's in the top 1.

Healthy LDL levels below 3 for men and women. To find out the level of risk, doctors calculate the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL. In your case, this functions as 1.5, which is a very good, low result. Less than 4 healthy.

In terms of recommending statins, HDL levels and total cholesterol are assessed along with a number of other risk factors to calculate what is known as your QRisk score. They include age, blood pressure, blood sugar and many others.

First of all you can consider non-drug treatments such as exercise and diet, including eating more cholesterol-lowering foods such as wheat and soy.

Knowing your cholesterol level is as important as knowing about other risks such as blood pressure and weight. Trying to improve all of these risk factors can help prevent heart disease.

In the past 12 months I found it difficult to write or complete household tasks without shaking. It diminished as I continued to write. It's a shame if someone asks me to sign something. Should I see my general practitioner?

It sounds like something called a tremor which can be a sign of a serious underlying condition. Doctors assess the potential causes of vibrations based on what you do when they occur. For some people, this arises when you hold a position – like an outstretched arm. For others, it comes when they don't do anything. We call it rest tremors. A resting tremor is typical in people with Parkinson's disease.

Shakiness that is triggered by an activity can be a sign of neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis or diseases in the brain. Sometimes it is a side effect of medication, or thyroid disease.

It could also be anxiety, or there is no sign at all.

With any shock, it is important to visit your doctor for blood tests to rule out serious illness. If no underlying disease is found, treatment will depend on how much you feel the vibrations affect your life.

Rod's hobby kept him on the rails

Rocker Rod Stewart has followed the advice I gave to most of my patients: doing hobbies.

The 74-year-old shared photos of his model train set last week, which he had built for 20 years.

He will surely feel pride, pleasure, and extraordinary achievement – all of which provide a huge boost to his mental health.

Not to mention the relaxing effect of having something fun, besides work, to focus.

In these increasingly tense times everyone needs to have a hobby – even rock stars.

Rod Stewart has followed the advice I gave to most of my patients: do hobbies

Rod Stewart has followed the advice I gave to most of my patients: do hobbies

We need to stop scaring smokers who are safer

I am concerned about the constant scare story about the use of electronic cigarettes.

Patients become afraid to make exchanges of lethal cigarettes because of the headlines about the dangers they should have.

Last week, for example, British teenager Ewan Fisher blamed his device for the development of its deadly breathing condition.

We know that taking vaping will reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease by up to 95 percent

We know that taking vaping will reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease by up to 95 percent

And a German cardiologist calls e-cigarettes 'dangerous', on the grounds of a ban.

But we know that taking vaping will reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease by up to 95 percent.

Obviously inhaling anything – be it steam, tobacco smoke or traffic smoke – is not risk free. But we must remember that steam from electronic cigarettes is far more dangerous to health than cigarette smoke.

I am always nervous when a patient tells me that they see a chiropractor to help deal with back pain.

And a shocking report last week reminded me why.

Retired John Lawler from York died after several trips to the chiropractor, who twisted and bent his spine – and left him with a broken neck and several vertebrae.

And that's not the only tragic case I've ever read.

Given the limited benefits of treatment, it is not worth the risk.

I was surprised to learn last week that some colleagues wanted to ban general practitioner visits. A group of prominent doctors from the British Medical Association thought that removing it would save precious GP time.

I strongly disagree. I see patients at home at least once a week.

Such visits are an important part of my work and save lives for thousands of people who are weak, disabled and living at home.

Others reach the end of their lives and desperately need help in pain management. Video appointments or examinations with nurses will not be enough. The answer is finding more doctors, not endangering the care of those in need.

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