Canadian Cardiovascular Society Position Statement on Familial Hypercholesterolemia
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Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is the most common genetic disorder causing premature cardiovascular disease and death. Heterozygous FH conservatively affects approximately 1:500 Canadians, and the more serious homozygous form affects approximately 1:1,000,000 Canadians, although these numbers might be underestimated. Of approximately 83,500 Canadians estimated to have FH, most are undiagnosed, which represents a simultaneous public health deficit and opportunity, because early treatment of heterozygous FH can normalize life expectancy. Diagnostic algorithms for FH incorporate increased plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, pathognomonic clinical features, and family history of early cardiovascular disease and hyperlipidemia. DNA-based detection of causative mutations in FH-related genes can help with diagnosis. Maximizing diagnosis and treatment of FH in Canada will involve a multipronged approach, including: (1) increasing awareness of FH among health care providers and patients; (2) creating a national registry for FH individuals; (3) setting standards for screening, including cascade screening in affected families; (4) ensuring availability of standard-of-care therapies, in particular optimization of plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and timely access to future validated therapies; (5) promoting patient-based support and advocacy groups; and (6) forming alliances with international colleagues, resources, and initiatives that focus on FH. This document aims to raise awareness of FH nationally, and to mobilize knowledge translation, patient support, and availability of treatment and health care resources for this underrecognized, but important medical condition.
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