The timing of this article and my research is perfect. I just had a fasting cholesterol test done two weeks ago and even though I make efforts to eat healthy foods and exercise at least twice a week, my cholesterol has gone up over the last year. It's now up to 252. Both my LDL and HDL (good and bad cholesterol) and for some reason my triglycerides really spiked. My primary physician immediately insisted that I begin taking fish oil supplements to bring down my triglycerides and make an effort to eat more foods with omega-3 fatty acids. I already drink soy milk and I try to eat fish and flax in various forms. But I apparently don’t do this often enough, or I splurge on unhealthy foods too often (which I admit is rather frequently).
So I will have to examine the rest of my diet and look for more ways to incorporate these items, and find ways to fight my cravings for fast food hamburgers and gourmet cheeses. If I don't bring down my cholesterol, I will have to begin taking medication for it, even though she would prefer to wait a few years. But she never mentioned my RA in our whole discussion. She made these recommendations based on my cholesterol levels and family history. I wonder if she is aware of the additional risks for people with RA and if this would change her recommendations for me.
On the bright side, I also read in the July/August issue of Arthritis Today, published by the Arthritis Foundation, that being very careful about adopting a healthy lifestyle reduces the development of atherosclerosis. This is the hardening of arteries through the build-up pf plaques that cause heart attacks, blood clots and strokes. Plaque is cause by build-ups of fats and cholesterol in the vessels. Inflammation of the vessels from RA can increase the build-up because the swollen vessels create a trap. The study found that people who have more severe RA, including a higher number of deformed joints, a high C-reactive protein level, a high SED rate, or take corticosteroids all had plaque in their carotid arteries. However, those who also had cardiovascular risk factors had a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis than the patients with only those RA symptoms. The researchers stressed that it is important for people with RA and other inflammatory disorders to make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.
The article also suggests some ways to begin making these changes: