FH and High Cholesterol

How FH Causes Cholesterol Buildup

Cholesterol is a waxlike, fatty substance that is needed to build cells and make hormones. If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can build up in the walls of blood vessels. This increases your chance, or risk, of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.4

The liver helps remove cholesterol from the blood.6 In people with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), the genes that control cholesterol removal do not function properly. As a result, certain structures on cells that help the liver to remove cholesterol from the blood are ineffective, and LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels can build up quickly. Left untreated, the cholesterol buildup increases the risk of events such as heart attacks and strokes.4

Watch FH Animation Video

Cholesterol Levels in FH

Cholesterol is most commonly measured as Total-C (all cholesterol) or LDL-C (bad cholesterol). People with FH typically have high levels of both Total-C and LDL-C.1

The National Lipid Association recommends that doctors strongly consider a diagnosis of FH if a person's LDL reaches specific levels depending on age.

LDL Levels That May Indicate FH

Under 20 years 20-29 years 30 years or older
190 mg/dL or higher 220 mg/dL or higher 250 mg/dL or higher1

Importance of Early Detection and Treatment

If you have FH, it is important that you take steps to control your cholesterol levels. People with FH who work with their healthcare professionals to understand FH and develop a plan to respond to the disorder’s challenges may be able to reduce their chance of heart disease.1 Often this means a disease management plan that includes lifestyle choices and diet changes. Most individuals with FH also must take medicines that help to lower their cholesterol.1

Lipid specialists and FH

A lipid specialist is a healthcare professional with in-depth knowledge of cholesterol disorders like FH. Learn more

FH resources

Download discussion guides and an FH fact sheet from the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association.

Learn more