Familial hypercholesterolaemia is associated with lifelong elevated cholesterol levels and is an important cause of premature coronary heart disease (CHD). This condition is often underdiagnosed and undertreated. Awareness of this condition is poor among nonlipid specialists. Treatment of elevated cholesterol levels with statins reduces the risk for CHD. The review will increase the awareness of this condition among nonspecialists.
Recently, several guidelines have been produced by different countries, but a unified approach to this global problem is addressed through a recent guideline facilitated by the Familial Hypercholesterolaemia Foundation. Although the widespread use of statins has been successful in reducing the risk for CHD in familial hypercholesterolaemia, there have been difficulties in getting to targets, especially in those with established vascular disease. New therapies such as mipomersen, a second-generation antisense oligonucleotide, microsomal triglyceride transfer protein inhibitors that decrease the synthesis of apolipoprotein B-containing lipoproteins and proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 inhibitors hold promise in reducing cholesterol levels in those patients in whom low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) reduction is required beyond the use of statins, especially in those with severe heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia or homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia.
Increased awareness and wider availability of guidance to treat familial hypercholesterolaemia will improve management of familial hypercholesterolaemia. New therapies, if they become available after appropriate outcome studies, will reduce LDL-C levels in both homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia and severe heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia, thus reducing the risk for premature CHD.
aDepartment of Metabolic Medicine, Clinical Biochemistry, Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
bDepartment of Clinical Biochemistry, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Oman
Correspondence to Dr Devaki Nair, BSc, MSc, FRCP, FRCPath, Consultant Chemical Pathologist and Clinical Lead for Lipids, Department of Metabolic Medicine and Clinical Biochemistry, Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust, London NW3 2QG, UK. E-mail: email@example.com