Iowa Heart Center's lipid specialists assist patients in the management and treatment of lipids — fatty substances in the bloodstream that may contribute to coronary artery disease. The clinic staff will work with you to reduce your lipids to the levels recommended by your physician and the latest medical research.
Lipids of concern
Cholesterol and triglycerides are fatty, wax-like substances found in all cells in the body that also circulate in the blood. They are essential to life, but too much of either can lead to coronary disease.
Of primary concern are HDL (or "good") cholesterol and LDL (or "bad") cholesterol. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) remove cholesterol from the body to prevent deposits from forming. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) carry cholesterol to the artery walls to form deposits or plaques.
Sources of cholesterol
Cholesterol comes from many sources. Your liver produces much of the cholesterol as a natural product of the body, but cholesterol can also increase from the foods we eat. Egg yolks, whole milk dairy products, fatty meats, palm oil and coconut oil are foods that can raise total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
To reduce those levels, patients should limit saturated fat and total fat in the diet. To raise HDL cholesterol, patients should get regular exercise, quit smoking and maintain an ideal body weight.
Normal amounts of triglycerides are good for us, but too much can be bad for our health. Elevated triglycerides can be caused by hereditary factors, other diseases (such as diabetes), or too much fat, alcohol, carbohydrates or calories.
Lipids and disease in coronary arteries
Cholesterol in the blood is the major cause of coronary artery disease, or atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a fatty build-up on the lining or arteries that results in more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
The fatty build-up is called plaque. It begins to develop in childhood, and continues to increase as we grow older. Plaque can cause severe narrowing of the arteries, resulting in chest pain, a heart attack or stroke. Often the first sign of atherosclerosis is a fatal heart attack.
Reducing cholesterol and triglycerides can slow the build-up of plaque in the vessels, and reduce the risk of heart attacks caused by coronary artery disease.
Lipid Clinic services
Services provided by Iowa Heart Center's Lipid Clinic include:
- advanced lipid profiles, including homocysteine, lipoprotein(a), high-sensitivity c-reactive protein, and LDL and HDL gradient gel electropheresis
- current practices of lipid management
- reviewing blood work results and establishing individualized goals for cholesterol, triglycerides, diet, exercise and weight
- monitoring and evaluating follow-up blood work
- screening family members for high cholesterol, and including them in sessions, when possible
- teaching nutritious, heart-healthy diets
- tips for dining away from home
- food diary analysis
- tips for grocery shopping
- how to read and understand food labels
To schedule an appointment in the Lipid Clinic, call (515) 633-3600, or (877) 914-3600. The clinic is located at 5880 University Avenue in West Des Moines.