What the heck is a lipidologist?

"What do you do for a living?”  It’s a question we often ask of new acquaintances.  For me, the answer is:  “I’m a lipidologist.”  Most often the response is a confused stare.  The best response I have received: “What the HECK is a lipidologist?”  Great question.  What the heck IS a lipidologist?

The simplest answer is that I am a doctor who cares for people with cholesterol problems.  And then you think:  “Really?  JUST cholesterol?  Is there really a need for that?”

If it isn’t obvious to you, then you are probably one of the lucky ones.  The ones who joke about their cholesterol after their Thanksgiving meal, or only think about it every time they get a clean bill of health from their Health Risk Assessments at work.  You go about your day and don’t think twice about cholesterol.  And that is the way it should be.

However, if the word “cholesterol” means much more to you…then a lipidologist can be a wonderful resource.  For all too many people, cholesterol causes disease.  And that means it also causes deep emotions ranging from confusion to frustration to fear.  It is not uncommon for my patients to shed some tears when they first discuss their struggles and fears.

  • Maybe you recall the pain because your mother died of heart disease when you were oh too young.  Now you look at your children and wonder “Could the same thing happen to me?”
  • Maybe you eat better than most people you know, but your triglycerides (fats in your blood) range in the 500s or even in the 1000s.  You know it runs in your family, but should you lose sleep over that?
  • Maybe your child had a screening blood test and was told their cholesterol was very high and you are worried now that her future is not a healthy one…but don’t know where to turn for help.
  • Maybe you have had a heart attack, and are overwhelmed by all the conflicting treatment advice you receive from healthcare providers, friends, and the internet.  Are medications safe?  Can diet help enough?  What caused that heart attack and where do you begin now?
  • Maybe you have had high cholesterol numbers for years, despite doing your best with diet and exercise.  Why can’t you get it down like other people?  Does it mean you will have heart problems?
  • Maybe you have struggled with weight issues for years and now are seeing higher cholesterol results and are told you are at risk for getting diabetes.  What more can you do?

Whatever your scenario is, my goal is to address those fears with answers.  But how, you ask?  First, we find the root cause of these problems.  So much has changed in cholesterol diagnosis and management in the past decade.  We can more accurately test cholesterol.  We can better identify genetic problems.  We can find the best treatment plan for the individual instead of relying on “one-size-fits-all” medicine.  But we can’t take all the credit; we often work as a team with nutrition and exercise specialists (because believe it or not…doctors don’t know it all!)  And you are the captain of that team.  That all adds up to more methodical and effective treatment. 

You see, lipidologists focus on getting you in control of your heart and artery health.  We get you moving towards a healthier future.  I want you to leave our office with a deeper understanding of the how and why.  And once we know that, we can create an action plan together for you to move forward. Clarity leads to hope.  Lots of hope. 

So, joke as you will about that megaburger you ate or getting tongue-tied saying lipidologist.  I sure can’t imagine doing anything else.  And I’ll be here when you need me.