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 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.
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 ("good") cholesterol to total cholesterol? What does this mean?
- Do I need medication at this time?
About Your Risk of Developing Lipid Disorders
- Based on my medical history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for a lipid disorder?
- How do I best prevent a lipid disorder?
About Treatment Options
- What medications are available to help me?
- 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?
- Should 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?
- Are there dietary changes I should make? How do I go about it?
- Can you refer me to a registered 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
- At what level do you want me to maintain my cholesterol and triglycerides?
- How will my lipid levels affect my risk for heart disease?
- How will I know if my cholesterol and triglycerides are staying within healthy limits?
- How often will you monitor my lipid levels?
American Heart Association website. Available at:
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: