Familial hypercholesterolemia, or FH, runs in families (a genetic condition). It happens when there is a change in one of several genes in the body.
There are two types of FH:
Heterozygous FH (HeFH) is more common. People with HeFH have one FH gene from one parent.
Homozygous FH (HoFH) is less common. People with HoFH inherit two FH genes, one from each parent. In this case, both parents have FH. This is much more serious and needs early detection in childhood.
People with HoFH can have LDL cholesterol levels more than 4 times higher than normal, which raises their risk of heart disease even more. Events can happen at younger ages, even in childhood. HoFH is harder to treat.
With both types of FH, treatment to lower LDL cholesterol is important to prevent heart attacks, stroke and related death.