Thursday, 04 December, 2003

A visit to the doctor

I've been seeing a cardiologist since last June after I learned of my older brother's heart trouble.  I figured I'd get myself checked out and keep an eye on it.  On July 2 I had a stress echo cardiogram and the doctor pronounced me okay.  But low HDL cholesterol (26 when it should be above 40) and high triglycerides (300+ when they should be below 150) are bad signs.  He prescribed exercise for the triglycerides and a slow buildup to 2,000 mg of niacin every day to bring up the HDL.  I saw him a couple of weeks ago and my triglycerides were down to 200 and the HDL was up to 31.  Both steps in the right direction, but not near enough.  He prescribed TriCor and I'm taking it but not terribly happy about it.  Drugs aren't my thing.

One thing I don't know is how much of the improvement is due to the drugs and how much to the exercise.  Exercise is known to increase HDL and reduce triglycerides.  Unfortunately, the effects last only as long as the exercise regimen lasts.  I'm tempted to go off the drugs and see what happens.  It's not like I'm in any immediate danger of heart trouble.

One thing I can credit to exercise is a decrease in my blood pressure, which has never been especially high, and a decrease in my resting heart rate.  I went to the dentist today for my semi-annual tooth scraping and they took my blood pressure and heart rate.  Then they asked me if I felt okay and if I exercised.  I guess a BP reading of 98/59 and a resting pulse of 48 is kind of unusual.  Those numbers are certainly lower than I've ever seen them.  I wonder what my blood pressure is when I'm cranking up a hill with a heart rate of 180 or more.