New Research on FH Shows Just How Heart-Wrenching It Can Be

Saturday September 24 is FH (familial hypercholesterolemia) Awareness Day, and it couldn’t come soon enough. That’s because, according to new research published in Circulation (the journal of the American Heart Association), people with FH could be 5x more likely to develop coronary heart disease.

And that’s not even the end of it:

Men and women with FH could also experience heart disease earlier in their lives–as much as 20 years earlier for men and 30 years earlier for women! That means that instead of having a heart attack in your 50s or 60s, if you’re living with FH you could have one in your 20s or 30s!

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Famial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited disorder in which genetic mutations prevent the liver from removing excess LDL cholesterol from the blood. LDL is low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is often considered the “bad” cholesterol. If someone’s LDL cholesterol is at 190 mg/dL, they may have FH. (For reference, average LDL levels are considered to max out at 130 mg/dL.)

If you think FH runs in your family, it’s important to get tested, diagnosed, and started on treatment, which can help prevent heart attacks and other complications. Speaking of which, it’s also important to be aware of the signs of a heart attack, which can differ for men and women.

Men may experience:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain (angina) which is often described as:
    • heavy
    • tight
    • burning
    • squeezing sensation
    • right behind the sternum
  • pain my spread to jaw, throat, or one arm

While these symptoms are most likely to occur during periods of physical activity or emotional stress, they can also occur during periods of rest. In fact, it may be a warning sign that a heart attack is right around the corner if you notice them occurring regularly or when not connected to any physical or mental exertion.

Women may experience:

  • fatigue
  • sleep disturbance
  • shortness of breath
  • indigestion
  • cold sweats
  • dizziness
  • anxiety

Whether or not these symptoms are accompanied by chest pain, they could be signs of a heart attack.

Coronary heart disease is the result of coronary arteries becoming clogged with cholesterol, narrowing the opening and limiting the amount of blood that can pass through to the heart.

James Ernest Cassady

James Ernest Cassady

Though "Ernest" is a family name that's been passed down for generations, James truly earned his middle moniker when, at the age of five, he told his mother that "laughing is stupid unless EVERYBODY is happy." Since then, the serious little bastard has been on a mission to highlight the world's shortcomings (and hopefully correct them). In addition to his volunteer work at hospitals and animal shelters, James also enjoys documentaries and the work of William Faulkner. He is originally from Oklahoma.

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