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Patient Education

Patient Education: FAQ

What are lipids?

Lipids are a large group of water insoluable molecules the most well known of which are cholesterol and fats such as triglycerides.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a necessary component of cell membranes and is also used in the synthesis of some hormones and bile acids.  It is produced by every cell in the body and absorbed by the intestine.

What is a lipoprotein?

A lipoprotein is a spherical structure (often referred to as a particle) that transports cholesterol in the blood stream.  Based on laboratory separation techniques, lipoproteins are typically referred to as low density lipoprotein (LDL), very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), high density lipoprotein (HDL).  They differ based on their size, the amount of lipids (both cholesterol and triglycerides) they carry, and their functions.

What is atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis a disease characterized by the buildup or accumulation of cholesterol-laden plaques in the arterial wall.  Atherosclerosis is what causes heart attacks, strokes, peripheral artery disease, and other vascular problems.  Having lipid or lipoprotein disorders such as high cholesterol or high triglycerides and medical problems such as hypertension and diabetes all increase your risk of developing atherosclerosis.

What does advanced lipid testing mean?

These are tests in addition to the standard lipid panel which can provide a more accurate assessment of cardiovascular risk.  These include different types of lipoprotein analysis and evaluation of arterial wall inflammation.  Among the most important are concentrations of actual lipoprotein particle numbers such as apolipoprotein B (Apo B), LDL-P, and an inherited lipoprotein particle called Lp(a), which is said as Lp "little a".  There are many other tests that when indicated can be very important to a lipidologist to better evaluate your risk and the response to specific therapies.

Is a healthy lifestyle important?

Of course!  Medications are always used in conjunction with proper nutrition and exercise.  There are nutritionists available for consultation.

What about medications?

In addition to proper nutrition and exercise there are medications to improve abnormal lipids and lipoprotein concentrations.  Appropriately dosed statins are first line therapy.  There are other medications that can be used in addition to statins if needed.  We can also discuss non-statin options as well as alternative statin dosing based on your individual needs.

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