Skip 
Navigation Link

1215 South Walnut Ave.
Demopolis, AL 36732 map map 

Access to Care: 334.289.2410

Medical Disorders
Resources
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
Vision Problems Strike More Than 2 Billion GloballyWhat Are the Risks of Pain Relief Alternatives to Opioids?'Alarming' Number of Lupus Patients Use Opioids for Pain: StudyMental Ills May Put Veterans at Higher Odds for Heart TroubleU.S. Minorities' Recent Health Gains May Be SlowingDon't Let Fear of Cancer Keep You From Doctor VisitsOpioid Prescriptions for Eye Surgery Patients SurgeIntense Gaming Can Trigger Irregular Heartbeat, Fainting in Some PlayersCould Profit Be a Factor in Kidney Transplant Decisions?Treatment for Very-Preterm Infants May Lead to Antibiotic ResistanceHurricane Dorian Can Wreak Havoc on Heart HealthMore CT, MRI Scans Being Used, Despite Calls to Cut BackThousands of Kidneys Thrown Away by U.S. Transplant CentersRestless Legs Syndrome Might Raise Risk of Suicide, Self-HarmMixing Marijuana With Opioids May Not Be Good for Mental HealthAHA News: Hurricane Checklist: Batteries, Bottled Water – And A Plan for Heart CareFor Asthmatic Kids in Tough Neighborhoods, Family Is KeySmog Could Land Newborns in Intensive CareTraveling Abroad? Make Sure Your Measles Shot Is Up to DateFDA Grants First Approvals for Generic Versions of LyricaAHA News: Where There's Wildfire Smoke, There May Be Heart ProblemsAnother Study Casts Doubt on Safety of Herbal Drug KratomTongue, Lip Snip Surgeries May Be Overused in U.S. NewbornsBrain Injury Often a Devastating Side Effect of Domestic ViolenceAnti-Vaccine Movement a 'Man-Made' Health Crisis, Scientists WarnWhen Traditional Rx Fails, Psoriasis Patients Seek AlternativesVets With PTSD Face Higher Odds for Early Death From Multiple CausesU.S. Cases of Infant Gut Illness Plummet After Vaccine IntroducedThe Safer Way to Ease Post-Surgical PainOverweight Kids Are at Risk for High Blood PressureAHA News: 3 Simple Steps Could Save 94 Million Lives WorldwideRace Affects Life Expectancy in Major U.S. CitiesU.S. Measles Cases for 2019 Already Exceed All Annual Totals Since 1992: CDCHigh LDL Cholesterol Tied to Early-Onset Alzheimer'sBlood Banks Could Help Screen for Hereditary High CholesterolHigh Measles Rates Mean Kids, Adults Need Proper Vaccination: CDCCPAP Brings Longer Life for Obese People With Sleep Apnea: StudyAHA News: Is Yoga Heart-Healthy? It's No Stretch to See Benefits, Science SuggestsMigraine Pain Linked to Raised Suicide RiskInsurers' Denials of Opioid Coverage Spurs CDC to Clarify GuidelinesColorado Sees Spike in ER Visits After Pot Made LegalNeed to Be Vaccinated? Try Your Local PharmacyAHA News: Opioid Meds Pose Danger to Kidney Disease PatientsMajor Flooding Can Bring Skin Infection DangersFDA Aims to Strengthen Sunscreen RulesAs U.S. Measles Outbreaks Spread, Why Does 'Anti-Vax' Movement Persist?Health Tip: Know Your Family's Medical HistoryDisrupted Sleep Plagues Hospital Patients, But New Program Might HelpClimate Change Already Hurting Human Health, Review ShowsCalling All Blood Donors …
Questions and AnswersVideosLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Cancer
Men's Health
Women's Health

Blood Banks Could Help Screen for Hereditary High Cholesterol

HealthDay News
by By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: May 22nd 2019

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, May 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- More than 1 million Americans have a genetic condition that pushes their cholesterol to dangerously high levels, but many don't know it.

Now, researchers offer a possible way to get more people with so-called familial hypercholesterolemia into treatment for this potentially life-threatening problem.

"The blood donor system could be a portal to understand who has genetic cholesterol problems," said Dr. Amit Khera, principal investigator of a new study into the idea. He's director of the Preventive Cardiology Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Having the blood vessels bathed in cholesterol from birth can cause heart disease to start 10 to 15 years sooner than normal, Khera said.

"And you have a significantly higher chance of having a heart attack or stroke," he said. "But here's the beauty -- it's completely preventable. If you get treated early, you can lead a normal life."

While most people see an increase in cholesterol as they age, those with inherited familial hypercholesterolemia have high cholesterol early in life, Khera explained.

"For people with this condition, levels can run as high as 270," he said. A total cholesterol level under 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered desirable.

Only an estimated 10% of people with familial hypercholesterolemia are diagnosed, Khera said, leaving 90% at risk for heart attacks and strokes.

In addition, their relatives have a 50-50 chance of having it, too. Identifying one patient with the disorder can lead to as many as 10 or more family members who also have it, Khera said.

But primary care doctors rarely test for the condition or take a family history of heart disease, he noted.

"People are not putting two and two together and realizing that it's not just high cholesterol but a genetic cholesterol disorder," Khera said. "If there's lots of people with heart disease early and the cholesterol is super high, this isn't garden-variety high cholesterol."

For the study, Khera and his colleagues reviewed the records of nearly 1.2 million people who gave blood at Carter BloodCare, in Dallas. Nearly 3,500 had cholesterol levels that might indicate familial hypercholesterolemia. They tended to be men and under age 30, the researchers found.

That number is similar to the percentage of people in the general population with the condition, Khera noted.

No significant difference was seen by race, though the condition was slightly more common among Asians, the findings showed.

As many as 1.2 million Americans have familial hypercholesterolemia. For children known to be at risk because of family history, testing starts at age 2, the researchers said. Once diagnosed, treatment includes diet and exercise, and statins in later childhood.

People whose total cholesterol is above 200 mg/dL should see a doctor, have a review of family history and get a diagnosis and treatment, Khera advised.

Targeting blood donors could be an effective way to identify undiagnosed familial hypercholesterolemia, he said.

Each year, nearly 7 million Americans donate blood. Of these, 32% are first-time donors, according to the American Association of Blood Banks.

Khera's team hopes to develop a way to follow up with people whose disorder is identified through blood donations, and connect them to treatment and family screening.

Dr. Gregg Fonarow, director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, said early detection and treatment can greatly reduce the risk of heart attack and premature death for people with the condition.

Unfortunately, most cases of familial hypercholesterolemia remain undiagnosed and undertreated, he said.

"These findings suggest that such a screening program of blood donors may serve as a novel approach to identify individuals with familial hypercholesterolemia," Fonarow said. "Consideration should be given to applying this approach nationwide."

The report was published online May 22 in JAMA Cardiology.

More information

To learn more about familial hypercholesterolemia, visit the American Heart Association.