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Talking to Your Doctor About Lipid Disorders

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with lipid disorders. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Lipid Disorders

  • What is my total cholesterol?
  • What are my LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol), and triglyceride levels?
  • What is my ratio of HDL cholesterol to total cholesterol? What does this mean?
  • What should my lipid levels be?
  • How will my lipid levels affect my risk for heart disease?

About Your Risk of Developing Lipid Disorders

  • How does my medical history, lifestyle, and family background affect my risk of having a lipid disorder?
  • Can I stop a lipid disorder from developing?

About Treatment Options

  • Will I have to take medication?
    • What are the benefits/side effects of these medications?
    • Will these medications interact with other medications, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am already taking for other conditions?
  • What should I do if I forget to take a dose?
  • Will I need to take these medications indefinitely?
  • Can I take fish oil supplements and/or niacin?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Should I engage in exercise?
    • What type of exercise is best?
    • How much should I be exercising?
    • How do I get started with an exercise program?
  • Should I change my diet?
    • Should I meet with a dietitian?
  • Should I stop drinking alcohol?
  • How can I find help to quit smoking?
  • Do I need to lose weight? If so, how much? Any suggestions on going about it?
  • If I change my lifestyle habits, will I still need to take medication?

About Treatment Goals

  • How will I know if the medication is working?
  • How will I know if my cholesterol and triglycerides are staying within healthy limits?
  • How often will you monitor my lipid levels?
  • If reduce my cholesterol numbers, can I stop taking medication?
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References:

Communicating with healthcare professionals. American Heart Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated October 3, 2016. Accessed March 13, 2017.
Tips for talking to your doctor. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 2014. Accessed March 13, 2017.
Last reviewed March 2017 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2015

 

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