How do I communicate with my doctor about high cholesterol?

Your doctor is your partner in treating your high cholesterol. The better you communicate with your doctor, the better you'll understand and carry out your treatment. This rule also applies to other health professionals who may join your treatment team, such as a dietitian or a physical activity specialist.

Here are some pointers on how to make your partnership work well:

  • Speak up - If you don't understand something, ask questions. Even if you think you know the answer, ask and be sure you do. Ask for explanations in simple language.
  • Write it down - Be sure you write down any treatment instructions. If you have trouble hearing, take a friend with you to the visit.
  • Keep records - Record your test results at each visit.
  • Review your treatment - Use your visit as a chance to go over your treatment plan. Check your goals. Be sure you're all in agreement over the next steps.
  • Be open - If your doctor or another health professional asks you questions, give full and honest answers.
  • Report any symptoms or side effects - If something causes a side effect, briefly say what the symptom is, when it started, how often it happens, and if it's been getting worse.

This answer from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. Robert S. Kaufmann.

Deborah Davis, DNP
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

If you have high cholesterol or other risk factors for heart disease, make an appointment with you doctor. High cholesterol levels require continual lifestyle changes and drug treatment throughout your life.  Periodic monitoring of your cholesterol blood levels may be necessary.  Reducing high cholesterol levels will slow the progression of atherosclerosis and potential complications of coronary artery disease, stroke and heart attack or death.

Ask your doctor for a cholesterol test, it is most accurate if blood sample is taken when you have not eaten in at least 6-8 hours.

Your doctor is your partner in treating high cholesterol. Arrive at your appointments prepared. Before your appointment:

  • Jot down the issues you want to discuss - These include your cholesterol test results and an appropriate cholesterol goal for you. Also ask how your cholesterol values affect your health risks.
  • Gather your information - Keep a list of all medications you take, including herbal supplements, and take it to appointments.
  • Grab a notebook - Your doctor will share lots of information at your appointments. Bring a pen and pad to write down any instructions. Or use your smartphone or a mini recorder to record instructions. A friend or relative could also come along to take notes for you.

Before you leave the appointment, be sure you thoroughly understand your cholesterol treatment plan, including any lifestyle changes, medications, or activities your doctor recommends, and see whether your doctor welcomes e-mails if you have questions after you leave. Also jot down when you should have your cholesterol rechecked.


Deb Cordes
Deb Cordes on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Specialist
The best way to communicate with your doctor about high cholesterol is to be an informed patient. Know what your cholesterol numbers are and what they mean. Talk with your doctor to ask him/her what should your cholesterol numbers be. If your cholesterol is to high then ask your doctor what medications and diet should you be on. Ask your doctor if he/she would recommend a dietitian that could help you  understand what foods would be low in cholesterol and how to maintain a healthy diet. Let your doctor know of any prescribed or over the counter medications that you are taking that he/she may have not prescribed. And most important do not be scared to ask the doctor to answer your questions. If you do not understand something ask for a simplier explanation. Sometimes it is helpful to make a list of questions to ask your doctor before your visit. Keeping this list will help you rember to ask the questions.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.