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Genetics and Cholesterol

Genetic conditions, like familial hypercholesterolaemia, can determine how much cholesterol is found in your body and high cholesterol can run in certain families.1

Learn about the relationship between cholesterol and genetics

It May Run In Certain Families1

Some people have a family history of high LDL-C (also called bad cholesterol) and cardiovascular disease.  If you have a family history, you also have a higher probability of developing high LDL-C and cardiovascular disease.

Genetics play a significant role in cholesterol levels and there are a number of inherited conditions that can lead to high cholesterol levels. Familial hypercholesterolaemia, or FH, is one of these inherited conditions. In people with FH, an altered gene can lead to exceptionally high LDL-C levels.1

There are two types of FH:

HeFH
HoFH1
The signs and symptoms are similar to those of HeFH, but appear much earlier in childhood. 

Just because your LDL-C levels and family medical history may point to FH, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have FH. If you are concerned, talking to your doctor who can help determine if you have FH. They will arrange for a blood test to determine your lipid profile, ask you about your family history and do a physical examination and in some cases arrange for you to have a genetic test. Confirming a diagnosis of FH will help your doctor decide which treatment is suitable for you.1 

FH is an inherited condition and is passed down through a family, therefore if you are diagnosed with FH, other family members including your children may have the disease.  It is important to talk to your doctor about having other family members tested.1 

If you are diagnosed with FH early and receive effective treatment, then this will reduce your chance of developing cardiovascular disease later in life. If you already have heart disease, treatment can help to stop it getting worse and help reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.1

Untreated, FH increases the chances of a person with the condition to experience a heart attack or stroke. Knowing your cholesterol levels will help you and your doctor determine the right treatment.1

Want to know more about Familial Hypercholesterolaemia? Just read our FAQ about FH.


References

  1. British Heart Foundation. Life with Familial hypercholesterolaemia. Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/~/media/files/publications/heart-conditions/m111f-life-with-familial-hypercholesterolaemia.pdf [Last accessed 27 February 2017]
  2. British Heart Foundation. Reducing your blood cholesterol. Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/~/media/files/publications/heart-conditions/his3_0114_reducing-your-blood-cholestero_a6.pdf [Last accessed 27 February 2017]
  3. FH Foundation. Heterozygous vs Homozygous FH. Available at: https://thefhfoundation.org/heterozygous-vs-homozygous-fh/ [Last accessed 27 February 2017]