Lipidology Overview and Checklist
What is Lipidology?
Lipidology is the study of the fatty substances in the blood, called cholesterol, lipids, or lipoproteins. It is a growing area of concern because of the relationship between cholesterol and cardiovascular risk.
A lipidologist is a doctor who has received additional training in cholesterol disorders and their treatment. Lipidologists use cardiovascular risk assessments to determine how cholesterol issues affect an individual patient, and then work with additional health professionals, such as nurse practitioners, nurses, dietitians, and others, to develop a multidisciplinary care plan
to help prevent disease.
In addition to a medical degree and board certification, usually in Internal Medicine, Cardiology, or Endocrinology, and experience in providing clinical care, a clinical lipidologist takes a written exam to receive board certification in this specialty.
A division of the National Institute of Health (NIH) has developed guidelines for the evaluation and management of lipids. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) helps doctors identify an individual’s cardiovascular and diabetes risk from cholesterol levels. Using these guidelines, lipidologists advise patients about lifestyle changes, weight management, and medication which can help reduce risk and make a change in overall health.
Why should I know about lipidology?
At some point, you will probably have your cholesterol levels tested. Your primary care physician may order the tests as a routine screening, or your doctor may suspect cholesterol issues as a source of other health problems. After that test, you will receive a “cholesterol panel,” or results. Based on that panel, you will know whether your cholesterol levels are normal or abnormal.
But some individuals who have “normal” numbers are still at risk for health issues related to cholesterol because they have other risk factors. These are exactly the types of concerns that lipidologists are trained to diagnose and treat, along with those patients who have very high
cholesterol. The earlier you are diagnosed and begin a treatment plan, the better your chances are for having and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing future problems.
Could I be at risk?
Yes. Even if your cholesterol numbers are normal, you could still be at risk for cardiovascular disease or diabetes if you have any of the following:
Cardiac risk factors:
___ abnormal HDL levels
___ high LDL levels
___ high triglycerides
___ high blood pressure
A family or personal history of:
___ heart disease
___ heart failure
___ heart arrhythmia
___ Cushing’s syndrome
___ polycystic ovary syndrome
___ kidney disease
___ high blood sugar levels
___ cholesterol that is difficult to treat
Personal traits of:
___ overweight or obesity
___ excessive alcohol use
___ diet, high in saturated fats (red meat, egg yolks, and high-fat dairy products)
trans fatty acids (commercial, processed food products)
___ lack of exercise
___ sedentary lifestyle
Certain medications, including:
___ birth control pills
___ certain diuretics
___ beta blockers and
___ some antidepressants
What will happen if I don’t do anything?
A lipid disorder increases your risk for heart disease, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), stroke, high blood pressure (hypertension), and other problems. If, in addition, you have any of the risk factors above, you may be putting your health and your lifestyle at serious risk.
What changes can I make?
When you receive treatment from a lipidologist, your specific health issues will be diagnosed. A team of health professionals who specialize in lipidology will work with you to decide what treatment works best for you and your lifestyle. This might include medication and/or lifestyle changes such as exercise, diet, and stress reduction.
Your progress will be closely monitored and your care plan will be changed as necessary to make sure you are seeing the best results in treating existing health issues and preventing future problems.