Familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) is a common genetic condition that causes high cholesterol, especially low-density lipoprotein (LDL), otherwise known as “bad cholesterol”. If one parent has familial hypercholesterolaemia, their child has a 50 per cent chance of inheriting it as well. Around 1 in 500 people are reported to have FH. High cholesterol levels can result in early cardiovascular problems such as heart attack, stroke, and angina. To tell us more, we invited highly esteemed consultant chemical pathologist Dr John Bolodeoku to shed light on FH and the associated complications.
High cholesterol symptoms
An individual with high cholesterol generally does not show any symptoms until they suffer from a stroke or heart attack. Nevertheless, cholesterol can build up in certain parts of the body such as the Achilles tendons or the backs of the hand. Fatty swellings may also grow around the eyes.
A family history of high cholesterol and heart disease is also a very important indicator in determining whether someone might have familial hypercholesterolaemia. People who smoke or are overweight are also more at risk of having high cholesterol.
The importance of diet
Individuals with familial hypercholesterolaemia should limit their intake of high cholesterol foods such as fatty meats and saturated fats. Fast food should be avoided, whilst a healthy diet including low cholesterol foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables is strongly advised.
Familial hypercholesterolaemia treatment
Familial hypercholesterolaemia needs treatment with drugs and medication.
In severe cases of familial hypercholesterolaemia, where cholesterol levels are dangerously high, treatment is available to remove the cholesterol from the blood by a process called apheresis. Using a special machine and an intravenous line, blood is extracted and filtered before being returned to the body.
An active lifestyle is recommended to avoid the condition worsening. Regular check-ups are also advised for anybody susceptible to familial hypercholesterolaemia, or high cholesterol in general.
If you are concerned about familial hypercholesterolaemia, you can schedule a consultation with Dr Bolodeoku, you can do so by visiting his Top Doctors profile.