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21-02-2010 | Cardiometabolic | Article

FH lipid treatment improved, but could be better


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MedWire News: Results from a Dutch study show that 2 years after diagnosis, most patients with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) are using lipid lowering medication, but few have reached recommended targets for low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

“FH is an inherited disorder of lipid metabolism that predisposes to severe premature cardiovascular disease (CVD),” explain researchers. “Cholesterol-lowering therapy can prevent or delay the onset of CVD and premature death in these individuals.”

FH is quite common in The Netherlands and therefore a molecular screening program and subsequent FH database were set up in 1994.

For this study, the investigators analyzed data from individuals registered on the FH database, who were aged 18–65 years and diagnosed with FH in 2006, to assess levels of lipid lowering treatment and its success 2 years later.

In 2008, Roeland Huijgen (Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam) and team sent questionnaires to the 1062 individuals diagnosed in 2006, 781 of whom responded.

The participants were aged 42 years on average and had a diagnosis LDL cholesterol level of 4.1 mmol/l (158.5 mg/dl).

The team report that at baseline, 51% of the cohort were taking lipid lowering medication, which rose to 81% in 2008.

Mean levels of LDL cholesterol were reduced significantly from baseline to 3.2 mmol/l (123.7 mg/dl). However, only 22% of the participants achieved the recommended LDL cholesterol level of 2.5 mmol/l (96.7 mg/dl) or lower.

“The molecular diagnosis of FH leads to an increased proportion of patients that start or intensify cholesterol lowering medication, and consequently, to a robust decrease in LDL cholesterol levels,” conclude Huijgen et al in the journal PLoS One.

They add that “the attained LDL cholesterol levels are lower than those reported in a previous survey which could reflect the effect of more stringent lipid target levels.

“However, only a minority of the patients were treated with a potent drug regimen to reach set targets.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert