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Can genetics play a role in high cholesterol levels?


Yes, genetics can indeed play a significant role in high cholesterol levels. This is known as familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disorder that results in elevated levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol from birth. There are two main types of familial hypercholesterolemia:


  • Heterozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia (HeFH): In this form, a person inherits a defective gene from one parent, leading to higher LDL cholesterol levels and an increased risk of premature heart disease.

  • Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia (HoFH): In this rarer and more severe form, a person inherits two defective genes (one from each parent), resulting in even higher LDL cholesterol levels and a much greater risk of early heart disease.


While familial hypercholesterolemia is a clear genetic cause of high cholesterol, even without this genetic condition, family history can still be a risk factor for elevated cholesterol levels. It's essential for individuals with a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease to be aware of their genetic predisposition and work closely with healthcare providers to manage their cholesterol levels through lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medication.



References:


  1. Marusic T, Sustar U, Sadiq F, Kotori V, Mlinaric M, Kovac J, Shafi S, Khan I, Cevc M, Trebusak Podkrajsek K, Battelino T, Groselj U. Genetic and Clinical Characteristics of Patients With Homozygous and Compound Heterozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia From Three Different Populations: Case Series. Front Genet. 2020 Sep 11;11:572176. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2020.572176. PMID: 33093846; PMCID: PMC7528874.

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