By Kellie McLain, ANP-C, CLS
One in 500 people in the United States have what is called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). That is roughly 626,000 people with severely elevated cholesterol levels inherited from their parents. FH causes high levels of Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol or LDL-C (bad cholesterol) in the blood that can lead to plaque buildup in artery walls. People with FH may not have any symptoms until they experience a fatal heart attack or stroke at an early age of <50.
More than 80 percent of people affected with FH are undiagnosed. Diagnosis is determined by a basic blood test your provider can order. FH is treatable through lifestyle modification with specific dietary options and exercise prescription as well as with certain medications. Diets low in saturated fats, lean meats, plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grain starch along with 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week (5) is ideal. Heart disease is preventable and finding out your cholesterol numbers and individual risk may just save your life! Don’t wait, this could be YOU!
Kellie McLain is a Certified Advanced Nurse Practioner and Clinical Lipid Specialist with the MUSC Seinsheimer Cardiovascular Prevention and Lipid Program