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Which healthcare professionals can help control my cholesterol?

Your Team to Help You Lower Your Cholesterol

You play the most important role in controlling your cholesterol levels. You are the only one who can:

  • change your diet
  • get more exercise
  • take any medicine your doctor prescribes

Your healthcare team can help. In addition to your primary care doctor, your healthcare team may include these professionals:

  • dietitian
  • pharmacist
  • exercise specialist

High cholesterol is a complex health issue. To treat it, you need to make changes to your lifestyle. You may need to take a medicine, too. So you'll need help from healthcare providers. Here's a list of who should be on your team.

Primary care doctor. Your primary care doctor is the doctor you see for most of your health concerns. This doctor should create your treatment plan and oversee your treatment. He or she should coordinate efforts with you and other members of your team.

Dietitian. A registered dietitian is another key member of your team. You'll want a dietitian with experience in helping people lower cholesterol. He or she can help you assess the way you cook and what you eat. Your dietitian can help you set step-by-step goals and help you change your diet to lower your cholesterol and lose any excess weight.

Registered dietitians are trained in nutrition and techniques to help people make diet changes. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian. Dietitians are often also available through hospitals and clinics. You can call the American Dietetic Association at 312-899-0040 for the names of registered dietitians in your area.

Pharmacist. If you take medicine to lower your cholesterol, your pharmacist will be another key member of your team. Choose a pharmacist who will take the time to address your questions or concerns. Your pharmacist should be able to talk with you about dosage, how to take your medicine, and possible side effects. Your pharmacist can also suggest ways you can remember to take your medicine as directed.

Select a pharmacy that can keep track of all your medicine by computer. This reduces the risk of mixing medicines that can cause adverse reactions. It also allows your pharmacist to know when you need to refill your prescription. If you get any prescriptions filled at another pharmacy, make sure each of your pharmacists has a list of all your medicines.

Exercise specialist. An exercise program is a main part of any plan to lower cholesterol. To work, your program must be geared to your fitness level, health, interests, and age. Also, it must be increased as you become more fit. Work closely with your doctor to develop a program that's right for you. Your doctor may suggest you work with a qualified exercise specialist. Your exercise specialist should have a degree in exercise physiology. He or she should also have experience working with individuals who have high cholesterol.

Other healthcare providers. Your doctor, dietitian, pharmacist, and exercise specialist are the core of your team. Depending on your health, you may need other professionals. These may include nurses, physician assistants, and home health aids. If you already have coronary heart disease, your doctor will probably want to consult with a heart specialist called a cardiologist. If your treatment isn't effective or in rare cases of very severe high cholesterol, your doctor may consult a lipid specialist.

Record contact information for the members of your team. Then share this list with each team member.