High cholesterol: Three signs you may have an inherited the condition – ‘Easy to miss’

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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The Mayo Clinic explains: “Familial hypercholesterolemia is caused by a gene alteration that’s passed down from one or both parents. People who have this condition are born with it. This change prevents the body from ridding itself of the type of cholesterol that can build up in the arteries and cause heart disease.”

HEART UK says: “Familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH for short) is an inherited condition which can cause extremely high cholesterol levels.”

It explains: ”There are a few physical signs and symptoms your doctor will look for if they think you might have FH. They are easy to miss, so you might have these signs and not notice.

“If you don’t have these signs, it’s possible you still have FH, as not everyone with FH has them.”

These signs include swollen tendons on the knuckles of your hands and your achilles tendon at the back of your ankle. These can look like small fatty lumps.

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The charity says other signs include raised, pale, yellowish patches around your eyes and on your eyelids, or a white arc shape or ring around the edge of the iris, the coloured part of the eye.

It adds that if your doctor thinks you have FH, you have probably already had a cholesterol test.

It says: “You might have your cholesterol tested again, this time to look at all the different types of fats, known as lipids, in your blood. This is called a lipid profile, or a full fasting lipid profile.

“Your doctor may also arrange for your blood to be tested for other things, such as blood sugar to check for diabetes, and signs of how well your liver and kidneys are working.”

The Mayo Clinic says those who inherit the condition from both parents usually develop symptoms in childhood.

Sadly, the organisation says if a rare and more severe variety is left untreated, death often occurs before age 20.

The reason having high cholesterol causes a gradual build-up of fatty material in your coronary arteries, otherwise known as atheroma.

The British Heart Foundation explains: “A build-up of atheroma means your arteries become thinner and blood can’t flow to your vital organs easily. This puts you at higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke.”

It says that though FH “is not easy to diagnose” though a routine blood test shows you have a high cholesterol level.

Nonetheless, the charity says: “You may also notice physical changes to your body that suggest you have FH.”

It says: “If you’re diagnosed with FH, your first degree relatives should also be tested as soon as possible.”

The Mayo Clinic says the risk of familial hypercholesterolemia is higher if one or both of your parents have the gene alteration that causes it.

It explains: “Most people who have the condition receive one affected gene. But in rare cases, a child can get the affected gene from both parents. This can cause a more severe form of the condition.”

It adds: “A genetic test can confirm familial hypercholesterolemia, but it’s not always necessary. However, a genetic test can help determine whether other family members also may be at risk.

“If one parent has familial hypercholesterolemia, each child has a 50 percent chance of inheriting it. Inheriting the altered gene from both parents can result in a rarer and more severe form of the disease.”

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