Understanding Family Heart Disease
Heart disease and stroke runs in families for a variety of reasons. Sometimes those reasons are obvious, but sometimes it seems like a giant family mystery.
That’s where genetics come in. We inherit lots of genes from our parents. It’s how we get our eye color, our height, even our shoe size. We also inherit genes that determine our likelihood to develop certain diseases such as breast cancer, colon cancer, and heart disease. Understanding your risk helps you make the best decisions for your long-term health.
For the last decade, our organization has focused on raising awareness of familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). We’ve promoted the use of lifesaving cholesterol lowering therapies and family screening in the fight against this treatable disorder.
Early proactive treatment of FH saves lives.
Research shows that 30-50% of people with FH also have high Lp(a) – a genetic double whammy. Both of these conditions are surprisingly common. FH occurs in 1 in 250 people, and elevated Lp(a) levels can be found in 1 in 5 people.
When the Family Heart Foundation started 10 years ago, it was estimated that only 1% of people with FH in the United States were aware of their diagnosis. Today, 20% of people with FH know they have it.
That’s progress, but there is still so much work to do. Awareness of FH is up, but awareness for Lp(a) is relatively non-existent. Many physicians have never heard of Lp(a), and the ones who have often do not see the point in measuring it, as there is no good treatment for elevated levels. We couldn’t disagree more.
Knowledge is power.
It’s true that there is only one treatment currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that’s lipoprotein apheresis therapy. But right now, there are three medications in clinical trials which all reduce Lp(a) levels. And even though there are currently no medicines, someone with high Lp(a) can work hard to reduce all their other risk factors.
Knowing that the Lp(a) community was being overlooked, the Family Heart Foundation simply could not limit our focus any longer to just FH ,
That's why the FH Foundation is now the Family Heart Foundation.
The Family Heart Foundation strives to save generations of families from heart disease through timely identification and improved care of FH and Lp(a). Through research, advocacy, and education the Foundation plays a critical role in driving change and empowering families to navigate their health.
Whether you have FH, elevated Lp(a), or both, join the Family Heart Foundation in educating e-health care providers and the public on family heart disease.