Can increasing awareness and early screenings have an impact on heart health in Canada? When it comes to familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), Vancouver’s top medical advisors believe it can, according to an online article for Cision.
Familial hypercholesterolemia is a rare genetic condition that causes very high cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol in the blood.
An overabundance of LDL can cause plaque to build up in blood vessels that can dramatically increase the chances of heart disease. In Canada, this can be particularly concerning as a recent study found that one in 250 Canadians have FH. Adults with with the condition are a very vulnerable group and often suffer from a major heart issue before they reach the age of 50.
In general, cholesterol levels do tend to go up when we get older. But, people with FH are born with high cholesterol, which gets significantly worse and at a much faster rate.
As FH is hereditary and progressive, doctors are hard at work to help raise the awareness of the importance of early screening of children at risk. By screening for FH in children, those diagnosed can be treated early on and monitored to help them live longer healthier lives. Generally, if one person in a family has FH, it’s a good idea for parents, siblings, and children to be tested, as well.
FH can be confirmed through labs, medical history, and physical exams. Physical exams may show cholesterol deposits in the tendons of the hands, elbows or eyes. Treatments often include adjusting your diet, increasing exercise, and using medications to help lower high cholesterol levels.
By talking about the physical manifestations of FH and the hidden dangers of high cholesterol, doctors in Canada are hoping to make a difference in the lives of children throughout the providences.