FH Family Story – Ali
I was certain I was doing everything right. I lived with a strict diet of grass-fed meats, organic vegetables, low carbs and absolutely no gluten, refined sugars or inflammatory foods. I exercised regularly, never smoked and was adamant about getting my seven hours of sleep every night. So when I decided to have my cholesterol checked at age 29, I was positive I would have the stellar results I expected.
I’ll never forget the day my doctor told me I had a total cholesterol level of 371 and an LDL of 245. I was shocked and completely defeated. The money on supplements, correctly sourced food and meat, and gym memberships – was it all for nothing? This made no sense.
Then my doctor mentioned familial hypercholesterolemia, and I started to put together the pieces of my family’s history of high cholesterol and early cardiac events. My mother has battled high cholesterol all of her life. I remember being told throughout my childhood that while we should watch our diet, there was really nothing we could do about the extreme cholesterol numbers. It was our family’s genetics; we were supposed to just live with it.
Well, I wasn’t satisfied with “learning to live with it.” So I went home and started doing my research and due diligence on FH. What I found frightened me – cardiac events in your early 30’s and even death. Not only was I mentally preparing myself to turn 30 that coming July, but now I had to prepare myself for a potential heart attack?
Then, I stumbled on the Family Heart Foundation’s website. During my browsing, I found the online patient registry and immediately put in my information. I also signed up to become an FH Advocate for Awareness. Who knows what could happen? I had no idea how it would change my life. That week I received a call from Cat Davis Ahmed, the Director of Outreach at the Family Heart Foundation. I will never forget that day, either. We talked for over an hour, and when I hung up, I cried for another hour. Not because I was scared, but because I realized there are other real people like me living life with FH. Young, old, women with children and families all living a really fulfilling lives. I was relieved.
Today, not only am I determined to be one of those success stories, but I want to help others find their success, too. Ninety percent of people with FH are undiagnosed, and it doesn’t have to be this way. I’m telling my story every day to coworkers, family, friends, anyone who will listen, with the hope that the 90% of undiagnosed decreases – the hope that someone like me will not be missed.
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