You’ve likely heard of high cholesterol and the dangers of the heart problems it leads to. It’s also likely that you’ve not heard much about genetic high cholesterol or the story that is told by Familial Hypercholesterolemia statistics.
Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a genetic condition that leads to aggressive and early cardiovascular problems due to high cholesterol and blocked arteries. These problems include heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. FH limits the liver’s ability to metabolize or remove low density lipoproteins, commonly known as LDL or “bad” cholesterol. As a result, people with FH have extremely high levels of LDL that are not controllable through solely a heart healthy diet, exercise and other healthy lifestyle factors.
Here are some Familial Hypercholesterolemia statistics which illustrate the gravity of this disorder:
- 1 in 200-500 people have FH worldwide
- FH may be found as frequently as 1 in every 67 people in certain populations, including French Canadians, Ashkenazi Jews, Lebanese, and South African Afrikaners.
- More than 600,000 people in the United States have FH.
- Individuals with FH have a 20 times higher risk of heart disease than the general population.
- According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, men with FH are likely to have heart attacks between the ages of 40-50, and 85 percent of men with FH will have a heart attack by age 60. Women with FH also have an increased risk for heart attack, generally between the ages of 50-60.
- If either parent has FH, children have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the disorder. This condition is called Heterozygous FH (HeFH) because only one faulty gene is inherited.
- According to the National Institutes of Health, people with HeFH typically have an LDL cholesterol level two to three times higher than normal.
- If both parents have FH, children have a 25 percent chance of inheriting Homozygous FH (HoFH), the more serious form, which occurs when the child receives a defective gene from both parents.
- Individuals with HoFH have LDL cholesterol levels three to six times higher than normal, according to the NIH.
- 1 in 160,000 to 1,000,000 people have HoFH. If left untreated, heart attack or sudden death are likely to occur as early as the teenage years.
- Most FH patients need to decrease their LDL cholesterol levels by at least 50%, according to a study by the European Society of Cardiology.
- Nearly 100 percent of people with FH will need cholesterol-lowering medications.
When considering these Familial Hypercholesterolemia statistics, it’s important to be aware of any family history of high cholesterol, early heart disease, or heart attacks when considering your risk because people with FH often don’t show any visible symptoms. If a family has a pattern of heart attacks or heart disease in men before age 55 or in women before age 65, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children in that family should undergo cholesterol testing as early as age two, and before age 10.For more Familial Hypercholesterolemia statistics, information, or ways to support the FH community, Contact the Family Heart Foundation. Taking an active role in the fight against FH will help to one day decrease these unfortunate statistics.