Global guidance to improve inherited high cholesterol care

Tuesday, 10 October, 2023

Global guidance to improve inherited high cholesterol care

A global team of experts assembled by the International Atherosclerosis Society has released guidance aimed to improve the care and management of Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH), a genetic condition that increases ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and the risk of early heart disease.

Gerald Watts, co-chair of the guidance, and Winthrop Professor of Cardiometabolic and Internal Medicine from the UWA Medical School, said that despite its significant impact on public health, FH remained largely underdiagnosed, with only 10% of an estimated 35 million affected individuals globally currently identified.

The evidence-based guidance was published in the journal Nature Review Cardiology and brings together scientific evidence to provide comprehensive recommendations for both detecting and managing the inherited condition.

“Even more concerning is that more than 80% of those treated for FH fail to reach recommended blood levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol,” Watts said.

“The urgency to address FH care has prompted this international initiative and aims to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice, ensuring that individuals with FH receive the best care they need.”

In addition to recommendations, the guidance emphasises practical implementation strategies that are designed to overcome barriers and leverage opportunities to deliver effective care for those with the condition.

Recommendations include that health services for those with FH should be patient-centred, safe, equitable, timely and cost-efficient; that evidence-based practices should be adapted to local needs; and specialised centres for sever FH cases should be established.

“Because of differences among countries, a contextual strategy will be required for implementing the guidance,” Watts said.

“General practitioners and primary care providers play a crucial role in FH care and we advised that their active involvement in screening, diagnosis and management is also essential for improving outcomes.”

Watts said that by following the guidance and implementing its recommendations, the aim is to assist individuals with FH, preventing early heart disease.

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