Do I Have FH?: Possible Indicators of the Disorder

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Familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited disorder that results in the production of harmful levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — also known as “bad cholesterol.” Those who have the disorder have a 50% chance of passing it on to their children. When both parents have the disorder, the chance of passing it on is even higher. If you are concerned that you or your children may have familial hypercholesterolemia, stay informed by reading on for possible indicators of the disorder.

Family History of Problems

Familial hypercholesterolemia is a disorder passed down genetically from parent to child. If your family history reveals a prevalence of cardiovascular problems that occur sooner in life than normal, it may signify the passage of familial hypercholesterolemia from generation to generation. An FH specialist may ask about your family history to help determine whether you may have the disorder.

High LDL Readings

High LDL readings can result from bad personal habits, such as maintaining an unhealthy diet and remaining sedentary.  However, they can also result from the presence of familial hypercholesterolemia. An LDL cholesterol reading of 190 mg/dL or higher in adults and a reading of 160 mg/dL or higher in children is a sign of possible familial hypercholesterolemia.

Visible Cholesterol Deposits

Visible cholesterol deposits throughout the body are another possible familial hypercholesterolemia sign. Not everyone who has FH will have these deposits.  The deposits typically appear as whitish or yellowish patches of waxy material located just beneath the skin surface. Deposits under the skin around the eyes are called xanthelasmas.  Deposits around the achilles tendons are called xanthomas.  Corneal arcus is a grey ring around the cornea.  If you have these deposits, they may be a warning sign that you have inherited familial hypercholesterolemia.

Chronic Chest Pain

Once the disorder has progressed to cardiovascular disease, possible hypercholesterolemia signsmay also include chronic chest pain — also known as angina. Because symptoms of angina can indicate the presence of heart disease, it is important for those who have chronic chest pain to have a medical workup as soon as possible. An FH specialist can perform tests to see if heart disease is present. If it is, further testing can determine whether the disease is indeed caused by familial hypercholesterolemia.  

Circulation Problems

As LDL cholesterol builds up in the walls of blood vessels, people with familial hypercholesterolemia may experience circulation problems — a feeling of pins and needles — particularly in their extremities. Because symptoms of circulation problems can also signal the presence of a neuropathic disorder, possible familial hypercholesterolemia signs can be mistaken to signify neurological issues such as neuralgia. Therefore, it is important to speak with your doctor about all possible causes.

Early Cardiovascular Problems

People with FH face 20 times the risk of premature cardiovascular disease of the rest of the population.  FH is the cause of 20 percent of heart attacks in people under the age of 45.  FH can be diagnosed based on a simple blood test to determine LDL cholesterol levels and a family history, even in the absence of other signs of FH.  Early diagnosis and treatment offer the possibility to prevent or delay cardiovascular disease.

Support the FH Foundation

The FH Foundation is a non-profit organization that increases awareness about familial hypercholesterolemia through advocacy, education, and research. To help accomplish our goals, we depend on financial donations from organizations and individuals, along with the assistance of volunteers. If you or someone you know has familial hypercholesterolemia, donating time and money to our organization can go a long way in helping us fight against the disorder.        

For more information about possible familial hypercholesterolemia signs and donating to The FH Foundation, give us a call today at (626) 465-1234, or use our contact form.

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