What are inherited high cholesterol disorders?
The most frequently-occurring inherited cholesterol disorder is familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH). FH is an inherited disorder of cholesterol metabolism leading to premature coronary heart disease. 1 in 500 West Australians have FH but 80% of cases are not diagnosed. The early diagnosis and treatment of FH can delay or prevent the onset of Coronary Heart Disease.
Can FH be treated and what are the benefits of treatment?
If treated effectively, cholesterol levels can be reduced to near normal, and the risk of premature heart attack substantially reduced.
Such treatment has been shown to result in regression of coronary artery disease and reduced heart-related illnesses in both men and women with FH. These benefits of treatment are likely to be greater if treatment is begun early in life.
How can FH be detected?
Detection of FH is possible through the measurement of cholesterol in the relatives of those who are affected with FH. Elevated blood cholesterol levels are found in about 50% of family members, while the other 50% have normal cholesterol levels and do not have FH. It is very important to detect the presence of FH in children and young adults in order to institute treatment as early in life as possible.
How is FH inherited?
Because the gene for FH is a dominant gene, relatives with FH will pass the condition on to their children of whom, on average, 50% will be affected and 50% will be normal. The key to the diagnosis of FH lies in the family tree. One side of the family will have had several members affected by premature death from either heart attack or sudden death from unknown cause (presumed heart attack).
Information Source: The Australian Atherosclerosis Society. Inherited high cholesterol disorders. http://www.athero.org.au/FH/Site/GenInfo/inhighcholesterol.htm.