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Can you inherit high cholesterol? Familial hypercholesterolemia

Inherit high cholesterol

What is familial hypercholesterolemia?

It’s estimated that around one in 250 people in the UK suffer from an inherited condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), which results in exceptionally high cholesterol levels [1]. It’s caused by an abnormal gene that prevents LDL cholesterol from being removed from the blood as effectively as it should be.

This means anyone with FH can have unusually high total blood cholesterol levels, usually between 7.5 and 12mmol/l but sometimes much higher. This means they are at risk of getting diseases of the heart and circulation at an early age, if the condition isn’t treated.

Can you inherit familial hypercholesterolemia and high cholesterol?

Because it’s a genetic condition, FH passes from a parent to a child.

As there are often few signs or symptoms of the disease, all close relatives, including children, should get their blood cholesterol levels measured if one person in the family is diagnosed with this condition.

Treatment for familial hypercholesterolemia

Whilst eating a healthy diet is important, it’s unlikely to lower cholesterol alone in people with FH – most people will also need to take cholesterol-lowering medication. Your GP will be able to advise and refer you to a specialist clinic.

For more information about FH visit the British Heart Foundation and Heart UK.

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[1] British Heart Foundation. Familial Hypercholesterolaemia.