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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Heart-Healthy Diet and Medication Cut His Heart Disease Ris

As printed on "www.health.com" -- Great story

Though he knew he had high cholesterol, Paul Tasner, 62, of Greenbrae, Calif., didn't realize it was high enough to put him at risk for a heart attack until he got a thorough checkup from his doctor. Unable to lower his cholesterol level through diet and exercise alone, Tasner decided to take the statin Lipitor—and he's glad he did

"I want to live a long and active life, so I followed my doctor's advice."
A few years ago, I changed primary care physicians. The new doctor requested a series of lab tests, including a cholesterol panel. We learned my total cholesterol was as high as 298! My doctor told me that I was at risk for heart disease. Not lowering it could lead to heart attack, death, and other bad stuff. 

I've always had high cholesterol, and I tried to get it down with diet and exercise. But as I've gotten older, I've put on weight. I travel a lot for work, and what I really dislike about business travel is that it disrupts my life. Not every hotel has an exercise room, and unless you're very fortunate, you're not in a place where healthy food is plentiful. Sometimes a family-style chain restaurant is the best place to eat, and you can't find anything healthy on the menu there unless you eat salad every day. 

I think the quality of food is important for your health. My wife is pretty focused on healthy eating. We don't eat a lot of fried foods. We try to buy organic fruits and vegetables, though that's something that's not available to everybody. But I hope I don't sabotage that entirely with some of my unhealthy food practices. I'm kind of a chocoholic and I love bread and baked goods. I love the street pretzels in San Francisco. 

My doctor said that if I could lower my cholesterol naturally, great. But if not, he recommended Lipitor for my particular profile. I gave it a try, but I couldn't budge the number, quite honestly. I never like to take drugs, I've always resisted, feeling like 10 years from now they might find out that it's bad for you. Nonetheless I started taking Lipitor, and I'm glad I did because two weeks later my cholesterol was slashed in half. I've been taking it for several years now and haven't seen any side effects. The worst reported side effect is liver damage, but I get physicals regularly with tests for liver functions and I seem to be doing fine. 

I want to live a long and active life. My father lived to be 73; that's not old anymore. I believe his father, my grandfather, was in his 60s when he died. They both died of heart disease. Being severely compromised by a stroke or something equally debilitating really scares me. I don't want to be crippled. I don't want to not be able to move around and travel and live my life. I like working, visiting my family, and seeing my grandchildren. I don't want that taken away from me. 
As told to: Shuka Kalantari

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