National Cholesterol Education Month – check your cholesterol levels

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Today September – National Cholesterol Education Month – comes to a close.

Two weeks ago I participated in the First International Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) Summit, hosted by the FH Foundation and attended by 120 cholesterol experts from around the world. It was an inspiring event. Katherine Wilemon, a young heart attack survivor and bearer of the not-so-uncommon and far-too-frequently deadly genetic cholesterol disorder FH, led the charge for FH awareness and concomitant therapy. We all left the meeting brimming with optimism.

Last week I had the privilege of delivering Grand Rounds at UCI, again on the subject of FH. The message was well received; if doctors fail to consider FH we will of course fail to identify it. Absent its identification, treatment cannot be rendered. Translation – we must put FH on our radar screen.

While many of us are working tirelessly to “spread the word”, naysayers blather uncensored on the internet and in the popular press about the dangers of cholesterol lowering drugs and the fallacy of the “cholesterol hypothesis”. Never before has medical science so clearly identified a culprit for heart disease and never before have we had such wonderful ways to mitigate the threat. Yet the gains we make are eroded daily by these adversaries. What are we to do? Somehow less knowledgeable but more vociferous folks have usurped our podium. Somehow the public has lost faith in medical science, instead choosing to believe oftentimes fork-tongued purveyors of “anti-science” spreading the paranoid perspective that drug companies and doctors conspire solely for their own advancement. How do we fight and win this battle? I believe that victory rests in patients once again understanding why it is that doctors deliberately choose their arduous path. Doctors don’t whimsically decide to devote ten or more years of their post-college lives to incomparably hard work and abysmal pay. The decision to become a physician is always well-considered. It is also a choice that can be made by only the brightest and hardest working young men and women. So what is the common denominator that drives these people to enter an exhausting and oftentimes unappreciated profession? Simply put, it is to help others. Doctors become doctors because they care. This I can promise you to be true. So when your doctor offers advice about cholesterol (or other issues for that matter) please consider from whence the advice originates. Contrast that to the recommendations you may see or hear on the internet, through the media, or even from an ostensibly well-meaning friend.  Doctors have their patients’ best interests at heart. The same is not so clear about the naysayers.

So at the close of National Cholesterol Education Month, do yourself and your loved ones a favor. Check your cholesterol levels. Then speak with your doctor. Be sure you’re being treated as well as we can treat you. It really could save your life.

Learn more about comprehensive preventive cardiology at preventivecardiologyinc.com

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