Treatment for FH
FH does not substantially respond to dietary changes. This is not to say that if you have FH the food you consume has no effect on your cholesterol levels. On the contrary, a diet low in fat is an important part of the treatment process. However, it is not enough to effectively manage FH. Medication remains the crucial component of FH management.
FH can be much more damaging to your heart and blood vessels than high cholesterol from excessive fat consumption. Because people with FH have high LDL-cholesterol levels from birth, early diagnosis and active treatment are essential to slowing down or preventing heart disease.
A Common Scenario
A lot of FH patients may find themselves on combination therapy. Although statin medications make up the foundation of many treatment regimens, an FH patient can be treated with some combination of the following medications that have different processes and complement each other:
- Statin –works by inhibiting an enzyme responsible for the production of cholesterol.
*Not everyone can take statins especially women who are trying to conceive, pregnant, or nursing. Talk to you doctor about other therapy options.
- Cholesterol absorber – works in the intestine by decreasing cholesterol absorption into the bloodstream.
- Bile acid sequestrant – works in the intestine by preventing cholesterol absorption.
- PCSK9 Inhibitor – antibodies that bind the PCSK9 enzyme. Normally, LDL is recycled in the liver by binding to receptors that move it through the cell. The PCSK9 enzyme weakens this process by connecting to and disabling the receptors, therefore increasing LDL in the liver. When the PCSK9 inhibitor is introduced, it binds to the enzyme stopping it from attaching to the receptors and getting in the way of the recycling process.
Some other cholesterol-lowering medications are fibrates, niacin, phytosterols, and fish oils/omega 3 fatty acids.
Consult an FH Specialist about the right medication for you. To view our treatment resources clickhere.
FH in almost all cases requires aggressive treatment through a combined approach – medication, low-fat diet, exercise, weight control and not smoking. Although medication is the most essential aspect of FH therapy, we like to say that every little bit helps.
FH is a lifelong journey; it is a lifestyle and not only for you, but for your entire family as well. FH involves heart-healthy meals, regular exercise to get the blood flowing, controlling your weight and eliminating smoking. Because obesity and smoking are risk factors for heart disease and those with FH are already at a 20 times higher risk, it is important to adapt to a healthy lifestyle. See our Diet & Lifestyle Tips for a guide to low-fat foods and suggestions for your next family meal.