Remembering Kevin Moore

Reader Refuses Statin, Gets Heart Scan And Gives Her Doctor An Education On Low-Carb Health

People often ask me, “What motivates you to keep blogging about low-carb? Don’t you ever get tired of writing about it or run out of things to share?” The answer to the second question is a resounding NO! My problem isn’t finding what to blog about but rather what NOT to blog about. There’s so much interesting and important information to share, trying to fit it all in is the issue I find most challenging. That’s one of the reasons I encourage people to seek out information not just from my blog but a variety of outstanding blogs and podcasts on the Internet to broaden your health knowledge even more. I recently added two fresh new listings of “The Best Blogs” and “My Favorite Health Podcasts” to the right for you to zero in on those people who are doing some truly extraordinary work in spreading the positive message of healthy low-carb living to the masses. One by one, we ARE making a difference in the lives of real people.

And that takes me back to the first question regarding what motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing. Honestly, sometimes it can be challenging when you are criticized by others for doing or not doing what they think is right. I’ve done this long enough now that I expect a certain level of this kind of thing to happen–but it doesn’t make it any less painful to endure. But what really keeps me going is hearing from those precious people who felt there was no hope for them in their weight and health journey until they read something on my blog, heard a message just for them on my podcast, or watched my wife Christine and I share a point on one of our YouTube videos that made it all click for them for the first time. It’s these watershed moments where people are no longer victims to their obesity or disease and instead become stronger through the knowledge they acquired as a direct result of my work that help me wake up in the morning excited about another new day of changing the lives of real people.

One such reader shared an extraordinary e-mail with me about an encounter she had with her family doctor after losing over 100 pounds eating low-carb. He was thrilled with her weight loss but was concerned about her elevated cholesterol numbers. Rather than settling for being a slave to a prescription drug for the next umpteen years, she instead started doing her own research and investigating what would be best for her. She learned some invaluable information from my blog, took the bull by the horns, and grabbed back control of her health at a time when most patients simply give in to the demands of their doctors who must know everything about health because they wear a white coat and endured years of medical education. But as this story from my reader shows, sometimes we as patients can provide our physicians a lesson or two through our example:

Hi Jimmy,

I hope you don’t mind me contacting you, but I want to share some things with you.

My doctor is thrilled with my 103-pound weight loss (thanks to low carb). But I just had my blood work done a couple of weeks ago and he called me with my report. My cholesterol is even higher and he said since my mom had a heart attack way too early in life, he is concerned about me. He said I either need to start taking a statin drug NOW, or if I want to try on my own, through diet and exercise, he will give me another 6 to 8 weeks to check me again. If it’s the same or higher, he wants me to go on the prescription.

I have to say that I have NOT been exercising, but yet have lost most of my weight in the last 1 1/2 years. I have been thinking I should start exercising, but just haven’t done so on a regular routine. But I have been dancing around the house while doing housework and making myself move more! My puppy dogs think I am trying to play with them and they get all excited. Hee hee! I have PCOS and diverticulosis which then leads to diverticulitis and some pretty bad attacks. Needless to say, I stay away from foods that bother me.

The doctor said I needed to get more fiber, but, I can’t have beans or raw veggies on my low-carb lifestyle. I’ve been eating creamy peanut butter on a low carb tortilla or just by the spoonful. I am totally allergic to any and all cheeses, even sour cream and cream cheese. There are also a lot of foods that the smell bothers me and I just can’t eat them. So, my food choices are very slim to choose from, but, I certainly haven’t been starving while being on low-carb.

My doctor recommended that I eat more chicken than red meat and that I should consume lots of fruits and veggies. All my life when I eat fruit I don’t feel good because of the sugar. I am not diabetic and get tested often, but they always say there are no signs of it. It’s because of the PCOS apparently and my body is insulin resistant and can’t properly process carbs and sugar. I had two small pieces of cantaloupe over the weekend and my tummy was not happy with me.

After talking to my doctor, it scared me, naturally, and I started searching online and so did my hubby. He found an old blog post of yours from 2007 where you interviewed Dr. William Davis from “The Heart Scan Blog.” He’s a cardiologist who advises his patients to live a low-carb lifestyle and is in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area–SO AM I!

I started reading other links and posts from your blog where you and others were saying their doctors were giving them high cholesterol reports and wanting to put them on statin medications. Some had heart scans done and all was fine meaning they didn’t have to take any prescriptions after all. So that got me to thinking and I called Dr. Davis’ office to find out the name of the imaging place close to me that does heart scans. I called and made an appointment and went and had a heart scan done to see for myself where I stood.

The lady that did the scan showed me the images on the computer afterwards and showed me what to look for and she said she couldn’t see any plaque build-up. YAY! I got my written report in the mail a few days later and yep, sure enough I got a big fat 0 (yes a ZERO!) score on my heart scan! The normal reading for a 60-year old woman like me is at least 25%. They sent my doctor a copy of the report and I made an appointment with him to go over these test results.

When my doctor walked into the room, he was all smiles and said my heart scan report was the best it could possibly be. He said for me being 60 years old, it is absolutely terrific to have a zero calcium deposit score. He said he didn’t feel I needed to take any cholesterol medicines after all and he was actually pleased that I took the initiative and got the heart scan done on my own. He asked me how I found out about Dr. Davis and the heart scan–so I told him all that I had learned from your blog and the links you provide.

He asked me what made me want to have the heart scan done, so I told him I really wasn’t excited about taking any medicine if I really didn’t need it. That’s when I started looking online and found your blog post I mentioned above. He was pleased that I was taking such an active role in my own health situation. I felt empowered as a patient that day and it was good to make my doctor feel proud of me for taking control of my own health. I sure feel better and he does too.

Who knows, maybe this has opened his eyes a little and maybe not everyone who has a high cholesterol report needs to take a statin drug. Maybe he will advise they have a heart scan done first before putting them on those medicine. He didn’t say that, but, I suppose it’s possible that he will be changing his course of action in the future when people are in this same situation that I was in. I feel so much better now that he isn’t wanting to give me cholesterol-lowering pill anymore. He says I am doing great and to keep up the good work. My HDL “good” cholesterol and triglycerides are better than they’ve ever been, so that’s in my favor. My LDL “bad” cholesterol is worse, but he said maybe in time it will even out.

Thanks so much for all that you do for everyone. You and Christine and all of the others who work so hard in the low-carb community are so wonderful. I enjoy reading the posts, but I tend to not comment a lot or I’d be on the computer all day long and wouldn’t get anything else done! I’m seriously thinking about going on the Low-Carb Cruise next year, but I don’t know if I can make it or not. You sure have a lot of great guest speakers lined up and it sounds like it will be a wonderful time for everyone. I’ll do everything I can to be there so I can meet you and say thank you in person. Thank you for being you and for helping everyone and for being such a wonderful inspiration!

WOW! What a perfect example of how an educated and empowered patient can change the course of their health. When you refuse to believe that medication is the ONLY option for changing your health, then you will do what this reader did to learn more about the alternative tests that need to be run and have them done whether your doctor ordered them or not. I often question my podcast guests why patients are so willing to put a risky medication in their bodies when they haven’t yet exhausted all of the natural remedies and changes in diet first. It must go back to our trust in physicians to “do no harm” and that they wouldn’t prescribe a drug if it wasn’t safe and effective. That paradigm, I believe, is beginning to change and more people like my reader are taking back control of their own health. WOO HOO!

Do you have a story to share with me about changes that have happened in your weight and/or health because you refused to believe you would have to take a prescription drug for the rest of your life? Send it to me at livinlowcarbman@charter.net and I may feature it here in a future blog post on “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb.” I’m encouraged to hear how my blog is impacting people’s lives and changing the future direction of their health. Never stop learning and sharing with everyone you know (including your doctor!) about the amazing benefits of high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb living!

20-Year Low-Carb Dieter Finds Zero Plaque Buildup In Her Arteries
Why Do Most Doctors Seem Clueless When It Comes To Understanding Cholesterol?
LipoScience’s NMR LipoProfile Test: A Revolutionary, More Accurate Lipid Profile Particle Size Screening

Justin Smith Says There Are $29 Billion Reasons To Lie About Cholesterol (Episode 438)
Dr. Duane Graveline: Statins Permanently Damage Mitochondria (Episode 308)
Dr. Dwight Lundell Says Statins Are No Cure For Heart Disease! (Episode 280)
Dr. William Davis: Best Of 2008 ‘Encore Week’ (Episode 214)
Dr. William Davis Pt. 1 (Episode 185)
Dr. William Davis Pt. 2 (Episode 186)

  • Ann

    What a refreshing story – I wish any doctor I ever went to applauded my initiative instead of acting like I was a hypochondriac and/or didn’t know what I was talking about (even when I’d probably done more well-considered research on the issue than they had).

    Anyway, I just wanted to mention that Dana Carpender pointed out* that one reason ‘bad’ cholesterol may appear higher on low carb is that the equation they generally use to calculate cholesterol skews LDL much higher when triglycerides are very low. So results could actually appear worse when they’re really much, much better! Seems criminal to me that so many doctors don’t realise this, and most likely end up putting, or at least trying to put, exceedingly healthy people on dangerous statin drugs…

    * (Article here: http://holdthetoast.com/content/doctor_wants_her_on_statins – she also mentions not being convinced that high cholesterol is generally the health threat it’s so often considered, and she’s not the first I’ve read that from. According to Dr. Eades, there’s been more than one book written by doctors regarding cholesterol which do what Gary Taubes’ books do for fat, i.e. pointing out the mythology and what the science has actually said).

    • Yep, Dr. Mary Vernon has said the same thing about LDL on low-carb.

    • Dana

      Dana’s right. Do a Google search for “Friedenwald equation” or “Friedenwald formula” and you will see exactly what she’s talking about. Dr. Michael Eades has mentioned this too. Most lab tests for cholesterol rely on Friedenwald because it’s more expensive to do a direct count of LDL. You can, however, request a direct count of LDL–there is a lab test for it.

      Anyway, what’s even more important than LDL count is what size the particles are. Big and fluffy = good. Small and dense = maybe not so good. Low-carb tends to make ’em big and fluffy.

  • Jules Abramson

    She says her LDL is worse but that depends on whether it is small dense LDL or large fluffy LDL. Was she tested for that with the VAP Panel? I bet it’s the good pattern because that’s what you get with a low carb diet.

    • Jules, I agree. That’s why I posted those related links at the end to help my reader. I agree her LDL particles are just fine. Large, fluffy and heart protective.

  • Oh, what a great story! When I get home and reapply for my low income health plan in July, I’m hoping they allow a heart scan. They probably don’t, but I know that my blood work will show I’m doing great on my LCHF diet. I feel so much better since I gave up grains a month and a half ago, and have lost all the bloating and a fair amount of weight (I’ll be able to weigh myself when I get home and know exactly how much).

    All I know is my clothes are falling off me now, and I have much more energy than I used to. The other day I was out walking the dunes and climbed up this huge one, only to realize it wasn’t the big one I had so much trouble with back in March. THAT one was just a bitty one, and I just walked up it easily. Can’t believe I thought it was so hard 3 months ago! Oh, and the big dune? Just got my heart rate up but wasn’t actually that difficult. Woohoo!

  • Rebecca

    Not only that, but the “acceptable” blood cholesterol levels have gone down since statin drugs were released. The Pharma companies say to doctors that cholesterol levels should be at XXX, if they’re not your patient needs our drugs! And then they slide a few bucks under the table.

    • All that is about to change, though, Rebecca as more and more patients are empowering themselves like this woman did with her doctor.

    • Dana

      My former stepmother’s total cholesterol was at 218 last she got it checked and her doctor told her it needed to be lowered. Last I knew, normal was 200.

  • that story sounds so familiar!

  • Peggy Holloway

    I just got back from my 4-day, 230-mile biking trip for charity. My riding partner and I had the best bike trip ever. For the first time, he tried doing the ride on a completely low-carb diet. (3 weeks earlier, he did a similar 7-day trip and ate all of the carby foods, including daily pie and ice cream, and had a terrible energy “bonk” the 5th day and quit early). Two of the days, we did not eat breakfast because the group meal was pancakes. Each day was around 60 miles of riding, at an average of 15 to 16 mph, with some significant hills (yes, there are hills in Nebraska, called the “sandhills,” which is where we were) and neither one of us had a snack at any point during the ride. We drank lots of water and waited to have a big steak or steak and eggs brunch at the end of each ride. We felt fantastic, full of energy, and never “bonked.” Ken, who is a retired physician and 15-year cyclist, is now preaching “low-carb” to everyone. He gained 9 pounds on the carby trip, and maintained his weight on the low-carb trip. (He had lost 30 pounds the previous few months on a moderate low-carb regime).
    Just before the bike trip, I was having some GI problems, which were probably a virus, so I went to my doctor (one of Ken’s former partners) for a preventive care check-up just to be sure there wasn’t something serious going on. I asked for a lipid profile, and she said “why, since you refuse to do anything about your cholesterol.” I said “you can’t be serious, with my HDL of 89 and triglycerides of 50? When you asked me last time, I thought you were joking.” She proceeded to argue that the high HDL didn’t correlate with low incidence of heart disease. I asked her about doing an LDL particle analysis and learned that it is not routine – in fact, the lab didn’t know how to order it. She also argued that particle size was meaningless.
    I am hoping that when Ken finishes reading the Phinney/Volek book that he loans it to her.
    So, I completely understand the frustration. At 58, the fact I just did the sort of cycling trip that I described above, should be proof enough that that whatever it is I am doing, it’s working.

  • Nina

    Kudos to you Jimmy.

    Of course there may be lots of people out there who benefit directly or indirectly from your work but never contact you.

    You’re building up a huge online resource – the Wikipedia of healthy nutrition.


    • This is true, Nina! I just passed 6 million pageviews since starting this blog in April 2005…and I feel like I’m just getting started. 🙂

  • TiggerLady

    I’m just learning about low-carb diets and am hoping someone will educate me.
    The OP said “The doctor said I needed to get more fiber, but, I can’t have beans or raw veggies on my low-carb lifestyle.”

    Why can’t she have beans or raw veggies on a low-carb lifestyle?

    My neighbor lent me Atkins New Diet Revolution, which lists all kind of salad greens, string or wax beans, broccoli, spinach, summer squash etc under “induction diet foods”. I looked online at http://www.atkins.com/Program/Phase1/WhatYouCanEatinthisPhase.aspx and it looks like the revised Atkins described in New Atkins for a New You mandates 12-15 g of carb per day from a long list of vegetables, it looks as though one could eat quite a large amount of most vegetables even in the first phase.

    Note if the OP doesn’t like vegetables or can’t tolerate them due to personal health issues, that’s her thing no problem, it’s just the part about “can’t have beans or raw veggies on low-carb” I’d like to learn more about. Thanks!

    • Most beans are very high in carbohydrate. Non-starchy veggies are indeed completely fine on Atkins.