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P1161_ABC_Pfizer_Living with FH

What is Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH)? Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a big term for a simple reality: It means your cholesterol levels are extremely high. Cholesterol itself is not a bad thing. Your body uses cholesterol to make the outer coating of your cells, and it even helps the body make all of the fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin D and some hormones. But too much of the wrong kinds of cholesterol can cause major health problems. It can even threaten the health of your heart (heart attack) and brain (stroke). In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that you have double the risk of having a heart attack or stroke if you have high levels of cholesterol. You get cholesterol from two sources. Your body makes it naturally, and if you eat meat and dairy products, you get it from the food you eat. The vast majority of people get all the cholesterol they need from their bodies. But how is someone with FH different from a person with high LDL cholesterol? People with FH have a genetic disorder—they’ve inherited their very high levels from one or both parents. This can lead to cardiovascular disease even at a very young age. Their bodies cannot remove enough of the wrong kind of cholesterol (LDL cholesterol, sometimes called “bad” cholesterol). So even if a person with FH eats no meats or dairy products, their levels are still extremely high. That’s why it’s really important that FH be treated as soon as your doctor knows you have it. There are two basic types of FH. In one type, you’ve inherited FH from one parent. This is the more common type. In rarer cases, people with FH have inherited their condition from both parents. People who get the FH gene from one parent can have LDL cholesterol levels 2 to 3 times higher than normal. But people who inherit a faulty gene from both parents can have LDL cholesterol levels more than 3 to 6 times higher than normal. This type of FH is harder to treat. 3


P1161_ABC_Pfizer_Living with FH
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