Advance with MUSC Health

Lipids & the Heart

Advance With MUSC Health
February 16, 2021
Kellie McLain, N.P. Cardiology

Each February, MUSC Health joins in the celebration of American Heart Month, and focusing on your heart health has never been more important. People with poor cardiovascular health are also at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. But, there's a lot you can do to prevent heart disease, a leading cause of death in the United States. Throughout the month, MUSC Health will be sharing heart health tips to inspire and motivate you and those you love to make heart health a regular part of your routine.

Cholesterol is the best-known member of the lipid family. While lipids are essential for many bodily functions, such as making new cells and producing hormones, they can become a problem. When lipid levels get too high, they build up on blood vessel walls, leading to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Kelly McLain, a Nurse Practitioner at the MUSC Health Heart & Vascular Center, is a board certified lipidologist who helps women at high risk for heart disease keep their lipids in check. "A patient is considered high risk if she already has heart disease along with another risk factor like high blood pressure, diabetes, or a history of smoking or stroke," says McLain. Participating in this Program gives women with genetic lipid disorders and those who cannot take standard medications like statins due to side effects, a distinct advantage. "As a research institution, we're constantly participating in studies which gives our patients early access to new medications. That's really important for people who've already tried everything else. It gives them options they wouldn't have elsewhere," McLain says. While everyone should keep their lipid levels low, it is especially important for women with high cholesterol because they have approximately twice the heart disease risk as women with lower cholesterol.