The good news: Certain lifestyle changes can help you reduce high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides—also known as lipids. This may in turn decrease your risk for a heart attack, stroke or other medical issues.
The bad news: These changes, though straightforward, are not always easy—as anyone who’s ever failed to keep a New Year’s resolution knows. Cutting calories, eating a more nutritious diet and regular exercise requires a certain level of personal commitment and discipline.
Lipid disorders—such as high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides or low levels of “good” cholesterol—are often the first signal of an impending coronary crisis. To help, University of Minnesota Health offers a one-of-a-kind lipid treatment program that promotes cardiovascular health by enlisting the whole family. The program also provides care for both children and adult care and integrates the work of many specialists across a variety of medical fields.
The major strength of the new lipid treatment program is tailored therapy, said M Health Cardiologist Daniel Duprez, MD, who oversees adult care for the program. Duprez and his colleagues understand that treating lipid disorders means more than just lowering cholesterol levels; it may include changes to your diet or medications, depending on your needs.
The lipid treatment program’s care team develops a personalized risk assessment for each patient. Duprez compares this solution to a tailor-made suit: “If you want to buy a suit, you can go to a department store and get a size 34 or 36, but the pants may be too long. If you go to the tailor, the tailor makes the suit just for you,” he said.
Our providers can treat patients who have a family history of cholesterol disorders or cardiovascular disease, patients who do not tolerate traditional lipid-lowering therapy, organ transplant patients and HIV patients, among many others. In addition to expert care, patients in the program may have access to new therapies through clinical trials.
“Continuity of care from childhood to adulthood” is another important advantage offered by the M Health program, Duprez said. He partners with Pediatric Cardiologist Julia Steinberger, MD, who directs lipid care for children through the pediatric Preventive Cardiology Program, to provide a seamless transition for younger patients as they grow into adulthood.
The M Health lipid treatment program also enrolls the entire family to make positive, healthy change.
“When you’re talking about lifestyle intervention—changing the way you eat and the way you move—it’s usually not very successful if it’s only targeting one member of the family,” Steinberger said. Steinberger typically spends as much as an hour per visit with each family, asking family members questions about diet and exercise, checking blood levels for cholesterol and triglycerides, and referring patients to other doctors in the program for nutrition advice, diabetes management or other services.
“We want the entire family to change the way they eat, to increase their physical activity. The younger kids are a captive audience; they’ll pretty much do what their parents do. Without a lot of education—with the adults in the family as well as the kids—we won’t be successful.”
“No other center in the Midwest does that. We work together—and we see the whole family so that we can provide a treatment program unique to individual,” Duprez said.