Most of the people commonly suffer from the common variety of high cholesterol, which hits individuals with poor or improper eating habits like not consuming enough whole grains, veggies and fruits and consuming diet enriched with fats and bad cholesterol.
Though, several people living in the US suffer from a more dangerous form of the disease: the familial hypercholesterolemia, which takes birth via genetic roots. Inherited high cholesterol often goes undetected and may lead to stroke, heart attack, or even premature death.
Cholesterol can enter into the bloodstream via two means that one is through your diet as mentioned above. The rest is manufactured within and by the body. Being hydrophobic in nature, it is not easily made soluble. Therefore, the body binds it with some proteins (like LDL) and fats to make the entire congregation soluble in the blood.
When the body requires cholesterol, the LDL receptors on cells pull it out of the bloodstream and into the cell. This process is guided by a single gene that codes for these LDL receptors. Sometimes, people have this gene as down regulated (when one of the parents a malfunctioning gene) has or malfunctioning (when both parents have non functional genes). This makes insufficient or improper LDL receptors, and as a result the cholesterol keeps lingering in the blood for long.
Some Statistics of this Condition
- 1 out of 500 people suffers from high cholesterol, due to genetics.
- Symptoms include: high LDL levels and cholesterol deposits on skin or in the tendons.
- Only around 15% of patients are aware that they have this defect.
- Around 85% of people have heart attacks and cardiac arrests before they turn 65 if FH goes untreated.
- It is transmitted to the offspring in about 50% of the cases.
Some people, being unaware of their FH condition think it to be another case of extremely high cholesterol, which is just tough to treat. If you have total cholesterol levels above 300 mg/ mL and LDL more than 200 mg/ mL in your body or have a family history of heart problems or high cholesterol then you might as well want to fix an appointment with a heart specialist or general physician.
Treatment of FH
It begins with improving your eating and lifestyle habits. Incorporating exercise in your schedule on d daily basis is one of the keys to a healthy heart. Gradually, on your doctor’s prescription you may start consuming medicines to keep your cholesterol levels in check. Reduce the amount of saturated fat you consume and also try quitting smoking and liquor consumption.
There are several drugs like statins which are given initially followed by additional drugs like niacin or ezetimibe for further reduction of cholesterol levels. People who have heterozygous form of FH quite frequently need LDL apheresis to filter out unnecessary LDL from blood.
Thus, it is extremely necessary to take precautionary steps if you are aware of your high cholesterol levels. There are several organizations like The FH Foundation on whose websites you can find about the causes, treatment and other medically relevant information on FH.