CVD Patients' Association HEALTHY HEART project:
Patients Testify - Professionals Comment on 2022
Patient Experience: Ignoring a cholesterol problem comes at a price
The experience of three people with many years of cholesterol problems have revealed that this condition cannot be managed without medication. The potential side effects do not equate to a much higher risk of having a heart attack.
Consistent control allows you to enjoy life
Algimantas found out about his trouble with extremely high cholesterol 30 years ago. “It was a routine check-up. The cholesterol index was as high as 12. I remember the doctor looking confused by the examination results and she insisted on doing the test once again,” Algimantas recalls.
His cholesterol levels were very high, the doctors discovered that this was a genetically inherited illness (Familial Hypercholesterolemia), and it was not caused by any other reason. “I didn’t feel any discomfort; however, I properly took the prescribed medication. I also changed my lifestyle and diet a bit, but I did not follow a special diet. As the origin of the illness is familial, I’m sure, the way of life will not radically change the situation,” the man claimed.
The patient emphasized that this problem requires careful monitoring of the condition of your body. Four years ago, after a regular swim in the pool, the man experienced a pain in the chest. “I went to the doctor immediately. They decided to do stenting. The procedure turned out successful. At the moment, I don’t feel any symptoms,” he said.
Algimantas leads a normal lifestyle. “I have my own small business – a car repair shop,” he says.
Naturally, it is complicated to avoid work stress. He compared the increase in cholesterol to diabetes – the disease cannot be cured, but it can be successfully controlled. “Every six months I do blood tests, check the liver enzyme levels, I take special medications, so I can live a normal life,” stated the patient.
The disorder was diagnosed out of the blue
Remigijus shared a similar experience. “A few years ago, as recommended by the family doctor, I had a heart test under a special programme for middle-aged people. I had not had any problems with my heart until then,” the man said.
Remigijus had neither overweight nor any harmful habits, did physical work, so, the lack of physical movement, which also causes heart ailments, could not be attributed to him. “I didn’t feel any symptoms and only after the prescribed preventive examinations of my cardio-vascular system, it turned out that I have severely narrowed blood vessels and they need to be bypassed and stents inserted,” he told.
The reason of this trouble is a long-standing increase in cholesterol levels. To make matters worse, it had such a bad effect on Remigijus’ heart that even stenting did not help – the patient suffered from a heart attack last year. “As soon as I felt the typical symptoms, I hurried to the doctor immediately. They provided timely and prompt assistance by introducing two more stents. I was lucky that the main blood vessels were not blocked, because the consequences could have been much more painful,” the man cheered.
He encouraged not ignoring the cholesterol problem, to regularly take preventative health checks, take medication as prescribed, and exercise a lot.
A bigger trouble came after decades
Zivile was diagnosed with a high cholesterol index at the age of 26. The doctors did not doubt that it was a familial ailment (Familial Hypercholesterolemia), because Zivile’s parents also had this problem. At the same time, another disorder was discovered in the patient – it was hypertension.
“High blood pressure caused headaches, hindered my ability to work, so I cared for it and took medication. Initially, I also followed a special diet and took medication for cholesterol, but without noticing a significant effect and knowing that the drugs could damage the liver, I chose to control only hypertension,” the woman recalls.
Yet, year after year, the long-ignored rise in cholesterol was doing its “dirty job”– by gradually clogging blood vessels and reducing blood permeability. The price of that was a heart attack. “Fortunately, it was not strong and timely medical care saved my life. I do not make choices anymore – I am taking medication for both, hypertension and high cholesterol. In my experience, the risk of side effects is lower than the possible consequences of the narrowed blood vessels,” she stated.
‘Ticking bombs’ must be neutralised
Professor Rimvydas Slapikas, a cardiologist at the Kaunas Clinic of the LSMU Hospital (LT), agreed to comment on the stories of three patients. He is convinced that, to a large extent, cholesterol is the cause of cardiovascular diseases. “The cholesterol-induced narrowing of blood vessels causes a heart attack or stroke. Therefore, it is very important to pay attention to the increase of cholesterol as soon as possible,” said the doctor.
According to him, a long-term study conducted in Lithuania showed that 90 percent of the population have dyslipidaemia, i.e., a disorder of lipid metabolism that can also cause an increase in cholesterol. “Unfortunately, this is an insidious disease, because the patient does not feel the increase in cholesterol itself, as long as it does not bring sad consequences. These are really “secret bombs” in our bodies,” prof. R. Slapikas underlined.
The professor pointed out that there are publicly available opinions that cholesterol does not harm the body. “Cholesterol is important and responsible for many processes in the body, but only when it is not too high,” prof. R. Slapikas stated.
The right amount of cholesterol is produced by our own cells, additionally, it still comes from the liver or with food, and, consequently, it is called “bad cholesterol.” The doctor explained, “It has to be removed through the liver, and if that doesn’t happen, it will eventually clog the blood vessels.”
The professor advises all people over the age of 40 should undergo a preventive health examination. Knowing that this problem has not escaped the parents, the professor advises to go in for medical check-up even earlier, in the young age. “Ideally, everyone would benefit from paying attention to their blood indicators at any age,” advises the doctor.
According to R. Slapikas, although a healthy diet is very important for health, the effect of diets on high cholesterol is very small and the only effective way to reduce the risk of this delayed-on “bomb” is medication. “These are statins that block the production of unnecessary cholesterol in the liver. It should be emphasized that they do not affect the production of “good” cholesterol in the brain and other organs in any way,” the doctor insisted.
The professor wished everyone health and once again reminded them to take care of it purposefully and consistently.
We talk a lot about the heart. However, the most important engine of our lives is usually forgotten and felt only when our weakened hearts stand or twist so strongly that at that time the whole world slips under our feet. What can be done to prevent this from happening?
We kindly invite you to participate in the remote educational event "NO FOR INFARCTION"
VIRTUAL CONFERENCE FOR THE PUBLIC, PATIENTS AND THEIR RELATIVES
Date of the event: 15.12.2021 - from 15:00
Program and more detailed information about the conference - https://infarktuine.lt/
Cholesterol is a friend and an enemy
World Familial Hypercholesterolemia (CH) Day is celebrated every year on September 24, it is initiated by the international community of European CH, and this year the Lithuanian Patients' Association "Healthy Heart" joins this awareness campaign. In collaboration with the international community, organizes a remote conference for patients and their families and anyone with a concern for heart health.
VIRTUAL CONFERENCE FOR THE PUBLIC
The date of the event: September 23, 2021 - 16:00-18:30
Program and more detailed information about the conference - https://pasauline-seimines-hipercholesterolemijos-diena.mailerpage.com/