Duke endocrinologists manage and treat the full range of lipid disorders, including abnormalities in your cholesterol, triglyceride and other lipid levels. Lipid disorders can clog and damage your arteries, which increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Ranked among the top 25 programs nationally, our doctors specialize in treating highly-resistant lipid disorders and often develop effective treatment alternatives for patients who cannot take statins, the most common medications used today to lower cholesterol. Our goal is to help you manage your lipid disorder and help you lead a healthier, longer life.
Comprehensive care for lipid disorders
As fatty substances, called lipids, circulate in the blood, they also filter into the walls of your arteries. This leads to a condition called atherosclerosis, which causes heart attack and most stroke. We treat atherosclerosis using statins, niacin, diet and weight loss, and other lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation and diabetes management. We develop personalized treatment plans aimed at reducing your risk for heart attack and stroke by as much as 80 percent.
Developed by our team, the Duke Lipid Clinic Low Glycemic Diet is a unique diet plan that achieves proven results. A quarter of our patients maintain at least 10 pounds of weight loss for one year or longer after their first visit with us. Our diet leads to higher high density lipoproteins (HDL), also known as the “good” cholesterol level, and lower triglyceride levels, as well as better blood sugar control in diabetics.
Choose Duke for lipid disorders treatment because we offer:
- Statin intolerance expertise. About 10 percent of patients have difficulty taking high doses of statins, the most effective cholesterol-lowering medications used to treat atherosclerosis today. Almost half of our patients come to us for our experience with statin intolerance. We specialize in developing personalized treatment alternatives for you, and lead research to find new strategies for lowering low density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as the “bad” cholesterol.
- Latest injection therapies. If eligible, you’ll have access to clinical trials using the latest investigational drugs, including Anti-PCSK9, which can lower low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels by 50 percent with an injection given every two to four weeks.
- Personalized treatment plans. Medications are very effective at treating lipid disorders, but some of our patients do not want to take daily medication. We work with you to develop the most effective treatment plans possible to manage your condition.
- Comprehensive lipid management. All physicians can prescribe medications, like statins and other medications used today to treat lipid disorders. We combine targeted, effective medications, lifestyle changes and the right diet for you to achieve more effective results.
- Screening for genetic lipid disorders. Some lipid disorders run in families. While primary care physicians handle basic lipid screening, we offer advanced screening and diagnostic services for patients who know they are at risk due to family history. Early screening and detection helps us develop a preventive plan to better manage your risk factors early on.
Highly effective cholesterol-lowering drugs either help your body reduce cholesterol build-up in your arteries or block the substance your body needs to produce it. Statins can slow the development of atherosclerosis by lowering LDL and nonHDL cholesterol. This can reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke by 20 to 50 percent.
We are part of ongoing clinical trials for Anti-PCSK9, an every other week injection that can lower LDL by up to 50 percent.
Emphasizes dietary changes to manage lipid disorders. Our doctors and nurse practitioners work closely with you to help you change your diet and eating habits. This approach will help you successfully control your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Developed by our doctors to emphasize low-glycemic foods rather than low-fat foods. It leads to higher HDL and lower triglyceride levels. After nearly 10 years of studies, we found that our patients with high triglyceride levels (hypertriglyceridemia) achieved an average of three percent long-term weight loss through this diet alone.
We may recommend you participate in smoking cessation programs and diabetes management classes at Duke or in the community.
A panel of blood tests that detect high levels of lipoprotein(a), a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Blood tests also provide a lipoprotein particle analysis, which detects “small dense LDL” and increased LDL particle numbers. About half of all adults have increased risk from lipoprotein(a) or high LDL particle concentration. Other specialized tests may be used to diagnose unusual genetic or acquired lipid disorders.
The heart scan produces images of your coronary arteries that doctors use to look for calcium deposits and clogged arteries. These deposits help your doctor determine where atherosclerosis is present.
Ultrasound measures blood flow in the brachial artery, the major blood vessel in the upper arm.