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Pharmacy and Medications

Cholesterol Test

05/28/2010

Question:

I am female, almost 60, exercise at least 1 hour daily, eat a generally healthy low-fat diet. I am also slim with a BMI of 18. My cholesterol was tested (by OSU hospital staff) in April 2009, and again by OSU in April 2010.

In that one year, my LDL went from 101 to 121. HDL went from 84 to 68. Triglycerides went from 77 to 122.

From April 2009 to April 2010, there were no changes in my exercise routine. My diet was basically the same - the only difference in that year was that I began taking 1 teaspoon of flaxseed oil daily and 1 daily fish oil capsule (total EPA/DHA 650 mg). I started taking these supplements to help dry skin. Could either one of these 2 supplements be responsible for the changes in my cholesterol numbers?

Thank you very much!

Answer:

First, let me start off by congratulating you on taking care of your body. Exercising and eating a healthy diet are the best ways to control cholesterol and to feel (and look) great! It is unlikely that the supplements you have been taking are causing the changes in your cholesterol numbers. If anything, they should have raised your HDL and reduced your triglycerides.

There may be other reasons for slight fluctuations in cholesterol readings over time, including your diet during the week immediately prior to the test, whether you fasted for a full 12-hour period, and inter-user variability with the person operating the cholesterol meter. Several peer-review journal articles have looked at the accuracy of portable cholesterol monitors with mixed results. Most found that there was some variation between the portable cholesterol meters and venous blood drawn and analyzed in a lab. The variations are generally low; however, if you have any doubt, you can always ask to have your cholesterol levels measured by your primary care provider.

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Response by:

Michael  Ganio, PharmD Michael Ganio, PharmD
Clinical Applications Pharmacist
Wexner Medical Center
The Ohio State University