She had an angiogram, which is a test that checks for any narrowing or blockage in the coronary arteries. Her doctors hoped they could put in a stent, a steel mesh tube that can keep an artery open, but Foote said the angiogram showed that things were too far gone. She said her arteries were choked with plaque, and her total cholesterol was at 335, with a level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the good kind, in the mid-teens. The American Heart Association considers a total cholesterol level over 240 as high risk, and an HDL level less than 50, for women, as higher risk as well.
Foote went in for bypass surgery. And she barely survived.
"I had a heart attack on the operating table," she said. "I always tell people, if you're going to have a heart attack, plan it right so you're in front of an audience of doctors when it happens. It was at the end. They were done and getting ready to close me up and send me to recovery."
Foote said that she now takes a fairly high dose of statins, a prescription-strength niacin supplement and fish oil capsules, and that her cholesterol today is a more reasonable level, though her "good" cholesterol "is rarely in the range they would like it to be, even with all of the medication." Typically, she said, her total cholesterol is 130, with an HDL level of 30 and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) of 86.
"I feel good these days, though," Foote said. "I took stock of my life, and I eliminated a lot of stress, which probably wasn't helping me either. Things are not bad at all."
A companion article offers more on controlling cholesterol.
SOURCE: Sheri Foote, 43, Denver
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