Diabetes Alaska



What are Lipidologists?

Lipidologists Can Help You To Prevent Heart Disease

Lipidologists are doctors that help manage your cholesterol and find treatments that will fit your needs.

In the United States, nearly one-third of individuals over the age of 20 have high cholesterol, a risk factor for both heart attacks and stroke. It is no surprise then that a new type of medical specialist has emerged to treat the legions of patients who have this potentially life-threatening cardiovascular condition. These new specialists in the medical field are called lipidologists.

A lipidologist is a doctor who has received additional training in cholesterol management, cardiovascular risk assessment and intervention. In addition to a medical degree, a lipidologist has a written certificate attesting to the completion of this special training. As this field is still very young, fewer than 400 certified lipidologists nationwide. The American Board of Clinical Lipidology, the group that oversees this certification curriculum, recognized its first graduating class in 2005. Dr Tanner was in the inaugural class of physicians who took the exam in 2005 and was the first board certified lipidologist in the state of Alaska.

The field of lipidology, or the study of fatty substances in the blood, is certainly a growing specialty. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, has developed a National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP). This program was formed in an effort to address how cholesterol works, and how to check and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Currently, most individuals only learn about their cholesterol levels by having a blood sample drawn during a yearly checkup.

When to Consult a Lipidologist

For most people battling high cholesterol levels, a primary care physician will first suggest lifestyle changes, such as adhering to a low-fat diet and increasing physical activity levels. The NCEP recommends trying a three month lifestyle change before starting any cholesterol medication.

If these lifestyle changes are not enough, the NCEP then recommends beginning a LDL-lowering drug therapy program under the guidance of a primary care physician. If this medication regimen has not effectively lowered cholesterol levels to a healthy level within 12 weeks, the group then advises seeing a lipidologist.

More Sophisticated Testing

A lipidologist will likely recommend advanced cholesterol testing. Standard cholesterol testing identifies three lipid categories: HDL, LDL and triglycerides, another type of fat found in the body. Advanced cholesterol tests provide a magnified look at cholesterol subclasses, providing 13 measurements of cardiovascular risk. See additional information contained on this website.

These 13 measurements include cholesterol particle size, a newly discovered risk factor for heart disease, and levels of apolioprotein B100, a protein that helps the body deliver and remove cholesterol to cells.

Using this advanced cholesterol test, the lipidologist can then provide specialized interventions. For example, some individuals may require medication designed to enhance the transfer and removal of LDL cholesterol. Other individuals may simply require more specialized dietary changes, such as limiting salt, increasing soluble fiber, or consuming less than 7% of total daily calories from fat.

Though certified lipidologists have been through specialized training for cholesterol management, the same medical tests and treatments they recommend can also be prescribed by a primary care physician or a cardiologist.

In fact, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends that a lipidologist work in conjunction with a patient's primary care physician, registered dietician, nurse and pharmacist. This will allow each team member to be aware of all recommendations provided to the patient. The patient can also encourage communication between team members by keeping a cholesterol management journal, which records dietary changes, exercise, medications and test results.

The information on this Web page is provided for educational purposes. You understand and agree that this information is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a substitute for medical treatment by a health care professional. You agree that Diabetes and Lipid Clinic of Alaska is not making a diagnosis of your condition or a recommendation about the course of treatment for your particular circumstances through the use of this Web page. You agree to be solely responsible for your use of information contained on this Web page

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