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Talking to Your Doctor About Lipid Disorders

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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.

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 out 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.
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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?

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Mike Woods, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2013 -
  • Update Date: 01/09/2014 -
  • Communicating with healthcare professionals. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Caregiver/ReachOut/CommunicatingwithHealthcareProfessionals/Communicating-with-Healthcare-Professionals%5FUCM%5F301843%5FArticle.jsp. Updated February 23, 2012. Accessed January 13, 2014.

  • Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/healthcare-management/working-with-your-doctor/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor.html. Updated November 2010. Accessed January 13, 2014.