Next up is a discussion concerning the importance of cholesterol management and an explanation of potential risks related to high cholesterol. This is the time when the doctor should explain to you about good and bad cholesterol, signs and symptoms associated with heart disease, stroke, or other vascular problems, and give you an overall assessment of how “bad” your cholesterol really is.
Will more testing be recommended?
Most likely yes.
a. Basic testing If your cholesterol test was not a truly fasting and complete lipid profile, then it should be repeated. Other blood tests evaluating blood sugar, kidney, liver, and thyroid function will be checked. Electrocardiogram to evaluate for any heart abnormality is often performed in the office.
b. Advanced testing – if there is any suggestion about a complication from high cholesterol, then further testing such as a heart stress test or ultrasound pictures of blood vessels may be ordered.
Will treatment be prescribed on the first visit?
It depends on your cholesterol profile and other medical conditions.
a. Lifestyle changes – Everyone should receive a review about healthy lifestyle habits covering topics such as a heart healthy diet, the importance of exercise, and refraining from smoking. This is the foundation of all treatment for high cholesterol.
b. Medications – If your cholesterol level is high enough or your overall risk for a future complication is high enough, then prescription medication may be prescribed on the first visit. Your doctor will discuss with you which medicine is best for your, review the goals of treatment, and review the potential side effects of treatment.
When should I see the doctor again?
a. Your doctor’s office should call you with your test results and make any further recommendations at that time including any necessary follow-up visits.
b. If no treatment other than lifestyle changes were recommended, then a repeat cholesterol panel should be done in 3 months to see if your cholesterol has improved enough not to warrant more treatment. The timing of a follow-up visit will depend on this test.
c. If a medication was prescribed during your visit, then a repeat blood test for cholesterol and side effect monitoring should be performed within 2 months. Medicines are usually increased every 1-2months until the target cholesterol level has been reached. You should have a follow-up visit with the doctor in 3-4months to assess your response to treatment.
What questions should I ask my doctor?
Here’s a list of some questions that should be answered during your first visit. It may not be a bad idea to write down some questions to ask your doctor.
a. What are the levels of my good and bad cholesterol?
b. What should my good and bad cholesterol levels be?
c. What are appropriate exercises for me and my overall condition?
d. Are prescription medications necessary at this time?
e. Are there any specific foods or other non-prescription medicines I can take to help lower my cholesterol?