Many people with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) are young and appear otherwise healthy, yet their arteries may tell a different story. With FH, the body can’t keep up with cholesterol levels. As a result, high levels of bad cholesterol may have been in their bodies – often unchecked – since they were born.
Over time, this can damage the blood vessels and block the arteries that supply the heart and brain. Cholesterol can also build up in the eyes, the skin, the liver and the tendons. Finding and treating FH early is critical.
If someone doesn’t know they have FH, the condition is often first suspected after someone has had a heart attack or stroke at a very early age, often before age 50.
The risk for problems is even higher in people who have other risk factors such as smoking or diabetes.