If you are seeing us for your cholesterol/ lipids– you need to know we are treating this condition because, like blood pressure, it is a risk factor for having a heart attack or stroke. The 3 biggest risk factors that you can control are smoking, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
The main things we need to know when you come to see us-
Are you taking your medication NOW that we have prescribed? If we sent you a letter with a script or discussed on the phone, it is important to know if you are or are not taking the medication as directed. If not, let us know if it is due to side effects or cost or insurance etc. We can try to make changes that will work with you. Statins are the only med at this time that have proof that they can decrease your risk of heart attack or stroke. Some people have trouble taking statins, they make some people tired, or cause muscle aches. We always recommend trying more than one statin if you have problems. Sometimes, if you have trouble taking a statin, it helps to get more Vitamin D3 and or Co-Q-10 – both can be found in the vitamin section of your pharmacy.
We need to monitor things like your cholesterol level, to see if the med is working, and liver tests and muscle tests to see if the medication is affecting you badly. For most people with multiple medical problems we recommend being checked every 3 months, but some people who are stable we will let come in every 6 months. We do not recommend only checking you once a year when you are on medication.
Lab tests are a little better if you are fasting– but only triglycerides and glucose levels are affected- so if you are here, we will plan on checking labs unless you prefer to come back another day before you eat. If triglycerides or sugar are really high, we may recommend a follow-up visit to recheck them fasting.
There are different guidelines to consider when deciding if you should be on medication. The latest guidelines involve calculating your 10-year cardiovascular risk- if your chance of having a heart attack or stroke is 7.5% or greater, then you should be on a statin. If you have multiple risk factors or strong family history or really high numbers then we will sometimes recommend starting a statin even if risk calculates lower.
Keeping cholesterol low is even more important if you have already had a heart attack or stroke – and there are some newer medications that work very well if the statins do not do the job.
So, keep those follow-ups with us so we can be sure your cholesterol stays under good control and you can have the lowest chance of bad things happening.
Joseph Moore, PAC