FH Family Story – Cat
I am Catherine Davis Ahmed and I am a mom with two girls – 8 and 11. I first found out I had high cholesterol when I was in high school. Without having a name for it, I knew that it was something that I inherited from my father’s side of the family. My family’s story is a happy one so far – thanks to the wonders of modern medicine and individual efforts to take care of ourselves.
My father and his brothers realized they all had high cholesterol in the late 1970s. All of the brothers had inherited FH from their mother’s French Canadian side of the family. In the intervening years, the men in my family took each successive drug treatment available to lower cholesterol, tried every diet and took up all kinds of exercise. Still, my father and my uncles underwent multiple bypass surgeries. One suffered a heart attack and had a stent inserted. But, every one of them is alive and well today, in their 60s and 70s and probably the most fit and active men I know. This is, in part, because they had to take their health so seriously from an early age. It is most importantly thanks to the development of statins and effective surgical interventions.
I went on and off statins for about 10 years thinking that I “shouldn’t” need medication if I could just get disciplined. Non-compliance is a problem for many conditions, especially those that are asymptomatic. People don’t like to think they need a pill, and I am no different. But each time I went off statins my level was higher than it ever was. Finally I got it, and today I have my total cholesterol level down to about 140 from a high in the mid-300s
In late 2012 my children’s pediatrician had the foresight to check my daughters’ cholesterol levels. She knew my family history and she knew it was a good idea to check early. Sure enough, my youngest had a total cholesterol above 300. She has FH. Thankfully, my oldest does not. I was lucky to live in NYC, where I took my daughter to see Dr. Lisa Hudgins and her nutritionist, Sandy. As a family, we have given up meat and most dairy and we eat lots of fish, vegetables and whole grains. All of these measures I hope amplify the effect of medication. But in any case, they are good changes to make for a healthy lifestyle. I have now accepted the fact that diet and exercise are not enough for what we have. Aggressive medical treatment is necessary. When the time is right, my daughter will also take medication. For now she is developing good habits to last her a lifetime and I hope, in that sense, she will follow in the footsteps of her grandfather and great uncles.
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