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September Is National Cholesterol Education Month! Do You Know If You Have Cardiovascular Risk?

Despite the dangers of high cholesterol and heart disease, many people may not fully understand the link between the two or know if they have cardiovascular risk.1 This September, in support of National Cholesterol Education Month, Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) Awareness Day (Sept. 24) and World Heart Day (Sept. 29), Amgen is helping to raise awareness of high cholesterol and its associated risks. We have posted two new animated videos on our YouTube page: an infographic video explaining the connection between cholesterol and heart disease, and a video portraying a family with FH, a genetic condition which profoundly affects cholesterol levels and the risk of developing heart disease at an early age.2

As you may know, there are several types of cholesterol. Some may play a beneficial role while others are associated with risk of cardiovascular disease.2 Multiple clinical studies have shown a relationship between an increased level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and increased risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke. In fact, worldwide, LDL is a leading risk factor for heart disease.1

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 71 million American adults have high LDL.1 This puts them at risk of heart disease, the number one cause of death across the globe.3 There are an estimated 17.3 million deaths each year from heart disease worldwide, and this number is projected to reach 23.3 million by 2030.3

VIDEO: Heart Disease and LDL: Understanding the Link and Risks

A number of factors can cause high LDL, including the genetic condition called FH,2 which is estimated to affect 14 to 34 million people across the globe.4 There are two types of FH, heterozygous FH (HeFH) and homozygous FH (HoFH).2 Heterozygous FH is more common and occurs in approximately one in 200 to 500 people. People with HeFH have LDL levels twice as high as normal, and can have heart attacks at an early age.2,4-6 Homozygous FH is the rare, more severe form and occurs in approximately one in a million individuals. People with HoFH have LDL levels in the range of 650 to 1,000 mg/dL, which is more than six times as high as normal, and often develop heart disease in their 20s, or even earlier in severe cases.2,4-7

FH doesn’t always present with symptoms, which means many people are unaware of their risk. In fact, less than one percent of people with FH in most countries are diagnosed, and many do not know the risks of their condition until it’s too late.4 Knowing your family history, early screening and diagnosis are essential to help lower your risk for heart disease.

VIDEO: FH Family Portrait

Now more than ever, Amgen is encouraging people to take advantage of the upcoming awareness opportunities to learn about high cholesterol and if they have cardiovascular risk. We hope you will join us!

To learn more about FH and FH Awareness Day, visit the FH Foundation website at thefhfoundation.org , and to learn more about World Heart Day, visit the World Heart Federation website at www.world-heart-federation.org . Additional organizations that can provide helpful information on heart health include the American Heart Association (www.heart.org ), WomenHeart (www.womenheart.org ) and Mended Hearts (www.mendedhearts.org ).


References

  1. CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vital Signs: Prevalence, Treatment, and Control of High Levels of Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol --- United States, 1999--2002 and 2005-2008. February 4, 2011. www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6004a5.htm?s_cid=mm6004a5_w . Accessed August 2014.
  2. National Human Genome Research Institute. Learning about Familial Hypercholesterolemia. www.genome.gov/25520184 . Accessed August 2014.
  3. World Health Organization. Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) Fact Sheet. 2013. www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en/ . Accessed August 2014.
  4. Nordestgaard BG, Chapman MJ, Humphries SE, et al. Familial Hypercholesterolemia is Underdiagnosed and Undertreated in the General Population: Guidance for Clinicians to Prevent Coronary Heart Disease. Eur Heart J. 2013;34:3478-3490.
  5. Daniels SR, Samuel SG, de Ferranti SD. Pediatric Aspects of Familial Hypercholesterolemias: Recommendations From the National Lipid Association Expert Panel on Familial Hypercholesterolemia. J Clin Lipid. 2011;5(3S):S30-S37.
  6. Hopkins PN, Toth PP, Ballantyne CM, et al. Familial Hypercholesterolemias: Prevalence, Genetics, Diagnosis, and Screening Recommendations from the National Lipid Association Expert Panel on Familial Hypercholesterolemia. J Clin Lipid. 2011;5(3S):S9-S17.
  7. Goldstein JL, Brown MS. The LDL Receptor. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2009;29:431-438.