Lipid Disorders

Lipid Disorders

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Duke endocrinologists and other specialists manage and treat the full range of lipid disorders, including abnormalities in your cholesterol, triglyceride and other lipid levels. Lipid disorders can clog and damage your arteries, which increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Our specialists treat highly-resistant lipid disorders and often develop effective treatment alternatives for people who cannot take statins, the most common cholesterol-lowering medications used today. Our goal is to help you manage your lipid disorder and help you lead a healthier, longer life.

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Personalized Treatment Plans for Lipid Disorders

Lipids Lead to Atherosclerosis
As fatty substances, called lipids, circulate in the blood, they also filter into the walls of your arteries. This leads to a condition called atherosclerosis, which causes heart attack and most stroke.  We treat atherosclerosis using statins, niacin, diet and weight loss, and other lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation and diabetes management. We develop personalized treatment plans aimed at reducing your risk for heart attack and stroke by as much as 80 percent.

Duke Lipid Clinic Low Glycemic Diet
This unique diet plan was developed by our team and achieves proven results. A quarter of our patients maintain at least 10 pounds of weight loss for one year or longer after their first visit with us. Our diet leads to higher high density lipoproteins (HDL), also known as the “good” cholesterol level, and lower triglyceride levels, as well as better blood sugar control in diabetics

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Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.



Highly effective cholesterol-lowering drugs either help your body reduce cholesterol build-up in your arteries or block the substance your body needs to produce it. Statins can slow the development of atherosclerosis by lowering LDL and non-HDL cholesterol. This can reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke by 20 to 50 percent.

Anti-PCSK9 Therapies

We are part of ongoing clinical trials for Anti-PCSK9, an every other week injection that can lower LDL by up to 50 percent.

Targeted Dietary Counseling

Emphasizes dietary changes to manage lipid disorders. Our doctors and nurse practitioners work closely with you to help you change your diet and eating habits. This approach will help you successfully control your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Duke Lipid Clinic Low Glycemic Diet

This diet was developed by our doctors to emphasize low-glycemic foods rather than low-fat foods. It leads to higher HDL and lower triglyceride levels. After nearly 10 years of studies, we found that our patients with high triglyceride levels (hypertriglyceridemia) achieved an average of three percent long-term weight loss through this diet alone.

Lifestyle Change

We may recommend you participate in smoking cessation programs and diabetes management classes at Duke or in the community.

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Lipoprotein Testing

A panel of blood tests that detect high levels of lipoprotein(a), a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Blood tests also provide a lipoprotein particle analysis, which detects “small dense LDL” and increased LDL particle numbers. About half of all adults have increased risk from lipoprotein(a) or high LDL particle concentration. Other specialized tests may be used to diagnose unusual genetic or acquired lipid disorders.

CT Cardiac Scoring for Coronary Calcium

The heart scan produces images of your coronary arteries that doctors use to look for calcium deposits and clogged arteries. These deposits help your doctor determine where atherosclerosis is present.

Carotid Intima-Media Thickness Test

Ultrasound measures the thickness of the inner two layers of your carotid artery. Your doctor can use these measurements to diagnose carotid artery disease and risk for coronary heart disease caused by abnormal lipoprotein levels or familial risk factors. 

Brachial Artery Reactivity

Ultrasound measures blood flow in the brachial artery, the major blood vessel in the upper arm.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals
In addition, Duke University Hospital is proud to be named the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 10 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.

Why Choose Duke

Statin Intolerance Expertise
Almost half of our patients come to us for our experience with statin intolerance. We specialize in developing personalized treatment alternatives for you, and lead research to find new strategies for lowering low density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as the “bad” cholesterol.

Latest Injection Therapies
If eligible, you’ll have access to clinical trials using the latest investigational drugs, including Anti-PCSK9, which can lower low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels by 50 percent with an injection given every two to four weeks.

Personalized Treatment Plans
Medications are very effective at treating lipid disorders, but some of our patients do not want to take daily medication. We work with you to develop the most effective treatment plans possible to manage your condition.

Comprehensive Lipid Management
We combine targeted, effective medications, lifestyle changes and the right diet for you to achieve more effective results.

Screening for Genetic Lipid Disorders
Some lipid disorders run in families. While primary care doctors handle basic lipid screening, we offer advanced screening and diagnostic services to people who know they are at risk due to family history. Early screening and detection helps us develop a preventive plan to better manage your risk factors early on.