Lipid Clinic at AGH now open


New clinic provides comprehensive hyperlipidemia services for patients.

High blood pressure may be exceptionally common, but its effects can be life altering. And yet, the condition is preventable with care and a focus on risk reduction.

Risk reduction is where Drs. Andrew Oehler and Indu Poornima focus when a patient enters The Lipid Clinic at Allegheny General Hospital. Although risk assessment starts with a calculation based on large population studies, it can be individually modified through further testing and discussion to provide a more accurate assessment for each patient.

“Once we have fully evaluated risk, we can then intelligently lower that risk with medications or with changes to diet, exercise, or supplements depending on the priorities of the patient and the nature of the risk,” Oehler explained.

For patients who have trouble tolerating cholesterol lowering medicines, The Lipid Clinic is an opportunity to find creative solutions to addressing their risk. That’s because of the team’s approach using pharmacological and non-pharmacological options. In addition to the board certified Oehler and Poornima, patients also have access to advanced hyperlipidemia therapies from a specialized cardiology team composed of non-physician experts including pharmacists, exercise physiologists and dieticians.

The clinic is also ideal for patients who may have high or uncertain risk for incident atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease due to comorbid conditions, patient concerns, family history, or initial lab testing. Patients concerned about lowering their risk aggressively irrespective of their baseline risk could also benefit from the clinic’s approach.

“Success in our clinic is for the patient to understand the plan our program crafts for them, and of course finding an effective risk reduction plan without any noticeable side effects,” Oehler said. “Unfortunately, some patients have had bad experiences when it comes to preventing disease where their risk is nicely lowered with medical therapy, but it comes with debilitating side effects. To be clear, that is never an outcome we're looking for in our clinic. We are always looking for therapies, both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic, to lower risk without any discomfort to the patient.”

Non-statin methods to lower LDL-cholesterol and alternative imaging-based methods to estimate risk are fast becoming the norm for prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The Lipid Clinic team has experience with several new cholesterol lowering agents and have access to several clinical trials to help patients. The team considers all options and focuses on patient education.

“A principle challenge that patients have, that we try and address in every clinic visit, is the difficulty most have understanding the problem with high cholesterol, the ways that it can impact your life, and how our treatments are directed at resolving those concerns,” Oehler said. “Much of our visits are dedicated to intense patient education, so that we're all on the same page at the end of the visit.”

Program offerings:

  • Genetic testing for hereditary cholesterol abnormalities
  • Advanced cholesterol and risk assessment testing
  • Diet, nutritional, and exercise recommendations
  • Weight management
  • Sleep testing and/or referral to a sleep specialist if needed
  • Support to stop smoking
  • Stress reduction counseling and management techniques
  • Medication management
  • Access to clinical trials

Refer to the Lipid Clinic if your patient meets the following referral criteria:

  • Statin intolerance
  • Premature development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease
  • Concern for a genetic cholesterol disorder
  • Family history of cardiovascular disease
  • Recurrent stroke or heart attack despite preventative therapies
  • Elevated cholesterol despite cholesterol-lowering therapy

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