New research, whose findings appear in the journal of the American Heart Association known as Circulation, shows that many people who have a high cholesterol level in their late twenties or early thirties may develop them due to a genetic disorder.
More specifically, the researchers found that around one in twenty-five people in their thirties develop high cholesterol levels due to a condition that can be passed down and is especially common in people with cardiovascular disease.
The senior investigator of the study and the clinical research fellow at Imperial College London, Dr. Antonio J. Vallejo-Vaz, stated that the findings of the study show that there is a need for particular programs that can emphasize the need for screening and testing of familial hypercholesterolemia.
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Familial hypercholesterolemia is a genetic disorder related to the defect with chromosome 19 due to which the body does not function normally and is not able to remove bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol in the body.
This leads to very high levels of cholesterol regardless of controlling all factors that are conventionally associated with raising LDL levels such as diet and exercise. People with familial hypercholesterolemia can have numerous health issues including a particularly high risk of having a cardiovascular event such a heart attack in the late twenties or thirties.
So far, research has only identified as genetics to be the primary cause of familial hypercholesterolemia. Usually, a child inherits the disorder at birth from one of the parents but in rare cases, it can be inherited from both of the parents which causes a much more severe form of the disease.
The new paper not only further investigates the issue but shows that a high cholesterol level is genetic in many of the cases.
The scientists reached this conclusion after a global analysis of studies that included thousands of cases of familial hypercholesterolemia from the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world in order to estimate the prevalence of the disorder.
After the analysis, it was discovered that around one in three hundred and eleven people have familial hypercholesterolemia and are at a very high risk of developing heart-related conditions considerably early in their lives.
According to the senior scholar at Stanford Healthcare in California and a clinical nurse specialist, Mary Ann Champagne, the findings of the study are significant as they show that a high cholesterol level in genetic in a lot of cases.
She adds that many of the health professionals estimated the disorder not to be as comparatively common. One in five hundred people were previously estimated to have familial hypercholesterolemia.
In people with heart-related conditions, the prevalence is much higher with one in seventeen people having the disorder which, in comparison, is eighteen times higher than those without any heart problems.
Even though the study shows that the cases of familial hypercholesterolemia are much higher than previously estimated, less than ten percent of the cases of the disorder are diagnosed on a global scale.
Hence, there is a need for more awareness regarding familial hypercholesterolemia and the need for screenings and testing for the disorder as the condition can cause irreversible damage to the health and even death if it is left untreated.
Vallejo-Vaz, who is overlooking the European Atherosclerosis Society’s Familial Hypercholesterolaemia Studies Collaboration, says that the condition is a challenge for the public health and doctors and health professionals need to look out for it more often especially in younger people with heart conditions.
Doing so can help diagnose the disorder before it develops further and prevent the development of heart disease or a cardiovascular event later in life.