Preventive Cardiology and Lipid Program

Comprehensive Cardiac Risk Assessment to Prevent Heart Disease

We believe the best way to beat heart disease is to prevent it in the first place or catch it in its early stages. The Loyola Preventive Cardiology and Lipid program offers easy to schedule appointments and high quality care that emphasizes prevention and early detection of cardiovascular disease.

Our cardiovascular preventive team of physicians, nurses, nutritionists and exercise physiologists is committed to helping you reduce your risk and get back on track to a healthier, happier life.

The Preventive Cardiology and Lipid program is offered at The Loyola Center for Health in Burr Ridge, Tuesdays from 1-5 pm.

Mission

The mission of the Preventive Cardiology and Lipid program is to prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular events from occurring by helping patients to identify and reduce their risk factors through customized medical management, as well as nutrition and exercise counseling. Our goal is to help you live a long and healthy life.

This program is also a teaching and research center for cardiology fellows and residents. The lipid and prevention evaluation and management service provides opportunities for staff to conduct research studies on an ongoing basis.

There are three ways you can benefit from this program.

Primary Prevention Program (For At-risk Patients)

What are cardiovascular risk factors?

Coronary heart disease (CAD) has been linked to a number of modifiable risk factors, including:

  • High cholesterol
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical activity

It is also important to know if you are at risk because of factors you cannot change, including:

  • Age (patients over 65 are at a higher risk)
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of CAD

We identify patients who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease and mitigate risk factors. Using the latest advances in biochemical, genetic and imaging testing to further assess risk, a cardiologist will create a treatment plan to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, including myocardial infarction, stroke and heart failure. We also offer specialized preventative cardiovascular care for women and tailor therapies designed to meet female patients’ unique needs.

Advanced Lipid Program

This program is beneficial for patients who need their cholesterol lowered but have not had success with medications prescribed in the past.

The team at the Preventive Cardiology and Lipid program helps manage patients with complex lipid problems, including primary homozygous and heterozygous hypercholesterolemia, for those who are intolerant to traditional medications (including statin) and those who are not at goal with their cholesterol numbers. The program is also useful for individuals who would like to lower their cholesterol numbers without taking medications. 

Services offered include consultation, diagnosis and a comprehensive treatment plan with regular follow-up and management.  We also offer LDL apheresis for patients with familial hypercholesterolemia who cannot control their cholesterol with diet, exercise and medications.

We also evaluate patients with chest pain and abnormal stress tests who would like to be evaluated with noninvasive coronary angiography using CT scans. The program is optimal for patients who have had a heart attack or CAD, advanced arrhythmias or for those who have had recurrent cardiac events where lowering their cholesterol numbers can play a significant role in preventing future events.

Secondary Prevention Program (For patients with established known coronary artery disease who have had prior events)

For patients who have experienced a recent myocardial infarction or undergone cardiovascular surgery, we also offer an integrated cardiac rehabilitation program to target secondary prevention through a prescription exercise program and counseling and modification of cardiac risk factors and lipid lowering therapy. Our goal is to prevent recurrent heart attacks or strokes in patients with cardiovascular disease.

Patients work closely with the cardiac prevention team and member of the nationally certified cardiac rehabilitation program to develop custom treatment plans and identify appropriate medications, as well as a personalized nutrition and exercise plan. Cardiac rehab includes comprehensive classes for nutrition, smoking cessation, cardiac well being, and providing patients with the tools they need to read and understand nutrition labels, make nutritious choices and build heart healthy habits. The program recognizes cardiac rehabilitation as integral to the comprehensive care of patients with coronary artery disease and heart failure.

What to Expect with the Preventive Cardiology and Lipid Program

The Preventive Cardiology and Lipid program evaluates and treats patients who have established cardiac or lipid disorders, or who are interested in preventing cardiac events. We offer detailed risk assessment with Loyola cardiologists with expertise in the field of lipidology and preventive cardiology.

At the initial appointment, you will receive a comprehensive cardiovascular evaluation, including an individualized assessment of your overall cardiac risk profile using standardized tools. You will have specialized blood work with a detailed measurement of cholesterol and lipid components. 

Diagnosis

Your comprehensive treatment plan may require additional testing, including utilization of advanced imaging modalities:

  • Lifetime risk - estimates how likely you are to have a heart attack or stroke during your lifetime
  • Coronary artery calcium CT scan - shows presence of fatty build up in the arteries
  • Ultrasound carotid imaging to identify earlier stages of atherosclerosis or blockages in the arteries before patients become symptomatic
  • Stress testing
  • Noninvasive coronary artery angiography with CT scan
  • Peripheral vascular testing using ankle brachial index
  • Genetic testing
  • Blood tests for more precise understanding of the different types of lipids and cholesterol in the blood, including LDL and HDL particles of different sizes and densities

After the initial consultation and evaluation, you will be provided a printed personalized lipid and risk factor analysis. Analysis will be paired with tailored treatment plans outlined with medical therapy targeted toward optimal control of modifiable risk factors, including cholesterol and blood pressure.

Why See a Dietitian?

Eating healthy can be a challenge. The Preventive Cardiology and Lipid program's team includes dietitians who can help guide you to make good decisions about your diet, breaking down barriers with new habits and behaviors and offering tips, education and counseling. If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure and are overweight it's hard to know what you should be eating. At your initial visit, our dietitians will act as investigators, seeking to learn more about your current and desired state of health. After learning about your health history, eating/exercise habits and favorite foods, they will help you to set goals to motivate you for necessary changes. For follow-up visits, they will focus on monitoring your progress and continuing to educate and keep you up-to-date with heart and diet information.

Treatment at the Preventive Cardiology and Lipid Program

Treatment at the Preventive Cardiology and Lipid program involves two facets: heart-healthy lifestyle changes and medications. You and your physician will have a discussion about healthy eating and healthy living lifestyle modification and whether you will benefit from medications. Each patient will be evaluated by a cardiologist who specializes in cardiac prevention and lipid management, as well as a registered dietitian. Additional referrals with endocrinologists or other medical specialists may be needed.

Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

This facet involves counseling for how to achieve a healthier lifestyle through education and dietary changes, exercise recommendations and smoking cessation education, if appropriate.

Every patient will receive a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan with short- and long-term goals. Patients undergo physical activity counseling and an exercise training program tailored to their cardiac condition, along with nutrition education and risk factor counseling.

Medications

For some people, lifestyle modifications may not be enough to lower their risk. In these cases taking medications will most likely be a necessary component of your treatment plan.

Treatment plans that involved medication at the Preventive Cardiology and Lipid program include variety a medical therapies that are individually tailored to your needs. The goal is to help lower your cholesterol numbers using a wide array of traditional and nontraditional medications. In addition, we offer counseling and advice on the risks and benefits of taking medications and keep a close eye on side effects.

Medications may include:

  • Statins
  • Bile acid sequesterants
  • Niacin
  • Ezetemide
  • Fibrates
  • PCSK9

A concierge service will work with a subspecialty pharmacist to obtain prior authorization for these novel medications. 

We also offer LDL plasmapheresis treatment for patients whose high LDL cholesterol levels have been difficult to control with diet, exercise and lipid-lowering drug therapy.

Patients will have routine follow-up as needed for repeat lipid and blood pressure measurements, adjustment of medication and continued dietary and lifestyle counseling. 

Risk Education and Prevention

You may be at risk of cardiovascular events if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • High cholesterol
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical activity

It is also important to know if you are at risk because of factors you cannot change, including:

The best way to prevent heart complications and disease is by being an educated patient so you never have a cardiac episode in the first place. The sooner you identify your risk factors, the sooner you can seek medical advice and receive a holistic evaluation of your personal history and potential risks to prevent events from occurring in the future.

We are proud to work with you to have a healthy life and reduce your risk of heart and vascular disease through the following programs:

Additional information on how to lower your cholesterol