HIGH cholesterol may be passed down the family lineage. A genetic disposition for excess low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is known as familial hypercholesterolaemia – here are the warning signs.
By Chanel Georgina
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When you have inherited “faulty” genes leading to high cholesterol (no matter how healthy your lifestyle is), there will be three “physical changes” that may take place. Firstly, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) pointed out that swellings – made from cholesterol – could form on your knuckles, knees or Achilles tendon at the back of your ankle. These are known as “tendon xanthomata”, which DermNet NZ described as small bumps that enlarge “slowly over several months”.
Secondly, the BHF added that a person with familial hypercholesterolaemia is likely to develop xanthelasmas.
“These are small lumps of cholesterol near the inner corner of your eye. They are usually yellow in colour,” the charity explained.
And thirdly, another indication of the inherited condition is “corneal arcus”.
The BHF elaborated: “This is a pale white ring around your iris, the coloured part of your eye.
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High cholesterol: Three warning signs
“If you’re under 50 years old and have corneal arcus, it’s a strong sign that you have familial hypercholesterolaemia.”
Mutated genes, that can be passed down from parent to child, prevent the liver from removing excess low-density lipoprotein from the body.
As such, the harmful cholesterol builds up in the bloodstream, embedding along artery walls and narrowing blood vessel passageways.
Consequently, the risk of heart and circulatory disease is increased, as well as the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke.
Around one in 250 people in the UK have familial hypercholesterolaemia, but many people are unaware that they have the condition.
If you suspect you might have the condition, your first port of call is the doctor.
A discussion about your family history of heart disease can be documented and a blood test can be arranged to check for cholesterol levels.
Should familial hypercholesterolaemia be suspected, you could be referred to a lipid specialist.
Cholesterol levels can be determined by a blood test
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“Early detection and preventative treatment is key to effectively treating FH [familial hypercholesterolaemia],” the BHF added.
How to lower cholesterol
While FH can not be cured, treatment can be effective at helping to bring down cholesterol levels.
People diagnosed with FH are likely to be prescribed statins to regulate levels of low-density lipoprotein.
Are you making cholesterol level worse?
Are you making cholesterol level worse? (Image: Express)
Other medications, such as ezetimibe, might be prescribed in addition to statins.
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Furthermore, it is imperative to eat a healthy balanced diet in order to not aggravate the condition.
Moreover, it is imperative to maintain a healthy weight and to do plenty of exercise.