Our genetics play a major role in our lives, as they can effect us in all aspects from our physical to emotional to mental health! Every family has a unique background pertaining to their health problems and so on. Health related issues are very common to be passed down from generation to generation. A common disorder that can get passed down to your children is familial hypercholesterolemia.
What is Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH)?
Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a inherited disorder that leads to aggressive and premature cardiovascular disease. This can cause issues like heart attack, stroke, and even narrowing of the heart valves. Individuals with FH do not carry on this disorder from poor diet or personal lifestyle choices, they develop this disorder through genetic mutations that make the liver incapable of removing excess LDL. This, in turn, causes high levels of LDL which can lead to cardiovascular diseases.
Your cholesterol levels are higher than normal because individuals with FH are unable to recycle a natural supply of cholesterol that your body is constantly producing. There are 2 different forms of FH. If you inherit this from one parent you then you would have what is called Heterozygous (HeFH) which effects 1 in 250 people worldwide. The other form is HoFh (Homozygous) which is when you inherit this mutation from both parents, which is extremely rare. This occurs in about 1 in 160,000 to a million people.
Risks that come with FH
If a women is carrying a child, the baby in the womb is already effected by FH. Since FH starts prior to birth, the risk for heart attack is 20 times more likely to occur than in others not born with this inherit disorder. Other risk factors include smoking, being over-weight, and high blood pressure. If you have FH it would be a good idea to quit smoking, acquire a better diet, and lead an active lifestyle. Together with medical therapy and a healthy diet, you can lower your risk of early heart attack.
FH Facts To Know
Did you know that almost 2 million people in the U.S. have FH and do not even know it? Here are some helpful facts to know about familial hypercholesterolemia:
- Over 90% of people with FH have not been properly diagnosed
- If one parent has FH, there is a 50/50 chance each child will develop it
- An estimated 1.3 million people in the U.S. alone have FH
- If left untreated, men have a 50% rise in having a heart attack by age 50, while women have a 30% risk over the age of 60