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Lipid Metabolism Unit
At many hospitals, patients with lipid metabolism disorders are treated by cardiologists. Although lipid disorders can eventually lead to heart attacks and heart disease, they are fundamentally metabolic illnesses. Because understanding such disorders is integral to the training of physicians who specialize in endocrinology, we believe endocrinologists are best suited to diagnose and manage patients with difficult-to-treat lipid disorders.
Our lipid clinic is led by Mason Freeman, MD, a board-certified endocrinologist and scientist who has researched lipid disorders and cared for patients with these conditions since the mid 1970s.
Lipid Associates, our lipid clinic, is located in Suite 730 of the Wang Ambulatory Center at Mass General’s main campus in downtown Boston. Appointments are available on Wednesdays from 9:00 am-noon.
Before your first appointment, please ask your referring physician to send us your medical records and, if applicable, test results or images (e.g. X-rays or CT scans). During your initial appointment, your physician will perform a physical evaluation and may order additional images or a blood test.
Based on the findings, your physician will diagnose your symptoms and develop a personalized treatment program to address your condition.
For common lipid disorders, such as high levels of low-density cholesterol (LDL) and/or triglycerides, our treatment approach typically begins with a thorough understanding of the roles lifestyle and family history play in the development of the disorder. Depending on your condition, we may recommend lifestyle modifications (e.g. dietary changes or an exercise plan) and, if appropriate, medications.
Statins are the medications most often prescribed for patients with high levels of LDL. Many patients are referred to us because they don’t respond to statins or experience side effects they find intolerable. Others have lipid disorders that are not primarily caused by high LDL levels, for which statins may be ineffective. Our physicians, whose research focuses on developing new therapies, are experts in prescribing medications that replace or work along with statins to produce the best outcomes for these patients.
When persistently high levels of LDL fail to respond to medications and lifestyle changes, we may recommend an advanced therapy called LDL apheresis. This treatment, which is managed by our colleagues at the Mass General Heart Center, is a dialysis-like procedure that can reduce LDL levels by as much as 70 percent.
Since 1985, Lipid Associates has managed care for thousands of patients with lipid metabolism disorders that do not respond to traditional therapies.
Referring physicians throughout New England rely on us because our clinicians have devoted their careers to diagnosing, treating and studying these disorders, from the common to the rare.
The most common conditions we treat include:
Causes of common lipid disorders include lifestyle behaviors (e.g. improper diet, lack of adequate exercise) and illnesses such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, kidney disease and liver disease. Additionally, common forms of these disorders may affect patients who have received organ transplants or take certain medications.
Our experience includes treating the full range of rare lipid disorders, many of which are genetically based, such as:
Program Chief Mason Freeman, MD, has diagnosed and treated patients with lipid metabolism disorders for over three decades. Renowned for his groundbreaking research, Dr. Freeman has transformed the Lipid Clinic into a major training site for other physicians, who in turn have opened lipid clinics at other hospitals throughout the region.
Joining Dr. Freeman at our program is Sherry Haydock, MD, who has managed care for patients at the hospital since the mid 1980s. Dr. Haydock collaborates with Dr. Freeman in investigating the causes and management of lipid disorders and in the development of novel therapies to treat these conditions. Drs. Freeman and Haydock consistently earn accolades in Mass General surveys for their ability to connect with patients and educate them about their conditions.
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