WVU Medicine Children’s marks Familial Hypercholesterolemia Awareness Day to reduce premature heart disease

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine Children’s is joining organizations across the world to increase awareness of familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) as part of FH Awareness Day on Sept. 24. FH is the most common cause of early heart attacks and premature coronary heart disease, impacting people of every race and ethnicity. More than 30 million people worldwide and 1.3 million in the Unites States have FH, and yet 90 percent remain undiagnosed.1

“People with familial hypercholesterolemia are in jeopardy of heart attacks or other life-threatening heart conditions early in life. FH is passed down through families, leaving entire generations at increased risk,” Lee Pyles, M.D., M.S., WVU Medicine Children’s pediatric cardiologist, said. “By increasing awareness of FH, more people will receive the early diagnosis and treatment necessary to live longer, healthier lives.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has designated FH as a Tier 1 priority for family screening. Each first-degree relative of someone with FH has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the genetic disorder. If FH is found early in life, it can be managed, adding decades of life to those who receive appropriate care.

WVU Medicine Children’s offers a network of Pediatric Preventive Cardiology Clinics in Beckley, Lewisburg, Martinsburg, Morgantown, Parkersburg, Summersville, and Wheeling. It is one of 40 institutions across the United States that participates in the CASCADE FH® Registry, a national clinical registry established and maintained by the FH Foundation. The CASCADE FH Registry collects comprehensive longitudinal data to address gaps in FH diagnosis and treatment. The CASCADE FH Registry is broadly representative of the U.S. population.

About Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH)

FH is the most common genetic cause of early, life-threatening cardiovascular disease. FH is a global public health concern that affects more than 30 million people worldwide and more than 1.3 million people in the U.S., but less than 10 percent are diagnosed. FH causes extremely high LDL cholesterol from birth and is the cause for 20 percent of early heart attacks (heart attacks that occur in the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s). Early and significant reduction of LDL cholesterol is key to successful management of FH, which requires lifelong treatment. To learn more about FH, visit www.theFHFoundation.org.

About WVU Medicine Children’s

WVU Medicine Children’s – currently located on the sixth floor of J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, WVU Medicine’s flagship hospital – provides maternal, infant, and pediatric care for West Virginia and the surrounding region, giving care to high-risk mothers, premature infants, and children with life-threatening conditions through adolescence to adulthood. In 2020, WVU Medicine Children’s will move into a new tower and ambulatory care center to be attached to Ruby Memorial. For more information, including ways to support the $60-million capital campaign for Children’s new home, visit wvumedicine.org/childrens.

1Weigman, A, et al. Familial hypercholesterolemia in children and adolescents: gaining decades of life by optimizing detection and treatment, Eur Heart J 2015, doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehv157.