Bad cholesterol – how it can be genetic and how you can avoid the risks

Written by: Dr John Bolodeoku
Published: | Updated: 19/07/2023
Edited by: Jay Staniland

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. 

By Dr John Bolodeoku
Endocrinology, diabetes & metabolism

Dr John Bolodeoku is a leading consultant chemical pathologist based in Basingstoke and London. With more than 25 years of experience in the medical field, Dr Bolodeoku is highly-experienced in chemical pathology. His areas of expertise include the management of cholesterol and diabetes, as well as pre-diabetes, thyroid disease and metabolic syndrome. 
Dr Bolodeoku received his MBBS from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, before going on to receive a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) from the University of Oxford in 1996. He began his postgraduate medical career at St Helier Hospital, Carshalton and St Georges Hospital Medical School, London. He has worked in numerous hospitals across the UK since qualifying, and completed his specialist training in chemical pathology (UK-CCST) in 1998. He is also a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists.
Mr Bolodeoku is currently a consultant chemical pathologist at the Candover Clinic at the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, and at Sterling Healthcare Group, New Malden Diagnostic Centre.  

In addition to his clinical work, Dr Bolodeoku is a leading voice in the pharmaceutical and medical consulting industry. He has served as chief executive officer for The EGCC, a leading global oncology-consulting firm. He has also served as chief medical officer for numerous pharmaceutical companies, including Innoture, Zeab Therapeutic Limited and A1 Labs.
Mr Bolodeoku is also a respected medical educator. He has held tutorials and lectures at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels in esteemed institutions such as the University of London and King’s College London. He has also been involved in the examination of final-year MBBS students at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School. Mr Bolodeoku has published numerous medical articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and is a co-author of the textbook Pathology (Pathology Integrated). 

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