Last updated: Jun 11, 2008
"I want to live a long and active life, so I followed my doctor's advice."
A few years ago, I changed primary care physicians. The new doctor requested a series of lab tests, including a cholesterol panel. We learned my total cholesterol was as high as 298! My doctor told me that I was at risk for heart disease. Not lowering it could lead to heart attack, death, and other bad stuff.

Ive always had high cholesterol, and I tried to get it down with diet and exercise. But as Ive gotten older, I've put on weight. I travel a lot for work, and what I really dislike about business travel is that it disrupts my life. Not every hotel has an exercise room, and unless youre very fortunate, youre not in a place where healthy food is plentiful. Sometimes a family-style chain restaurant is the best place to eat, and you cant find anything healthy on the menu there unless you eat salad every day.

I think the quality of food is important for your health. My wife is pretty focused on healthy eating. We dont eat a lot of fried foods. We try to buy organic fruits and vegetables, though thats something thats not available to everybody. But I hope I dont sabotage that entirely with some of my unhealthy food practices. Im kind of a chocoholic and I love bread and baked goods. I love the street pretzels in San Francisco.

My doctor said that if I could lower my cholesterol naturally, great. But if not, he recommended Lipitor for my particular profile. I gave it a try, but I couldnt budge the number, quite honestly. I never like to take drugs, Ive always resisted, feeling like 10 years from now they might find out that its bad for you. Nonetheless I started taking Lipitor, and Im glad I did because two weeks later my cholesterol was slashed in half. Ive been taking it for several years now and havent seen any side effects. The worst reported side effect is liver damage, but I get physicals regularly with tests for liver functions and I seem to be doing fine.

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I want to live a long and active life. My father lived to be 73; thats not old anymore. I believe his father, my grandfather, was in his 60s when he died. They both died of heart disease. Being severely compromised by a stroke or something equally debilitating really scares me. I dont want to be crippled. I dont want to not be able to move around and travel and live my life. I like working, visiting my family, and seeing my grandchildren. I dont want that taken away from me.