FH Awareness Day: 24th September 2016

Saturday 24th September is FH Awareness Day and Randox Biosciences want to join in on the campaign to discuss FH, a severely underdiagnosed cardiovascular condition. We would like to raise awareness of this disorder and discuss how our dedicated scientists have developed a test to detect FH. Let’s discuss the facts so you, #KnowFH!

What is FH?

FH is the much used abbreviation for Familial Hypercholesterolemia; an inherited disorder that leads to aggressive and premature cardiovascular disease which results in problems such as heart attacks, strokes and even narrowing of the heart valves.

This is not solely a result of an unhealthy lifestyle as those with FH have a genetic condition that makes their liver incapable of metabolizing (or removing) excess LDL, thus resulting in very high Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL-bad cholesterol) levels.

A common disease, it affects 1 in 250 worldwide, meaning around 1.3 million in the United States are living with FH. Worryingly, it is significantly underdiagnosed as most people are unaware that they carry an FH mutation and as such, it is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’.

As FH is genetic, if a parent has an FH mutation, there is a 50:50 chance that they will pass it onto their children. Additionally, if left untreated, men have a 50% higher chance of experiencing a heart attack before the age of 50 and untreated women have a 30% risk by the age of 60. The good news is that, if diagnosed, FH can be effectively treated.1

The current recommended screening techniques are costly and time consuming, limiting the number of individuals who benefit from a timely diagnosis. Under NHS guidelines, when a person is found to have FH, their closest blood relatives should get tested too – including children before the age of 10.2

FH Testing from Randox Biosciences

Randox Biosciences have developed a test in partnership with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust to proactively diagnose FH. Utilised on our patented Biochip Array Technology, our FH arrays simultaneously detect 40 of the most common FH-causing mutations within the LDLR, ApoB and PCSK9 genes, with results available in just 3 hours.

With early and appropriate treatment, such as adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking cholesterol-lowering medication, risk of heart disease can be significantly reduced so that someone with FH can live as long as a person who doesn’t have the condition.

Our test, which is available through Randox Health Clinics, has been adopted by medical professionals within the NHS, including Dr. Colin Graham, recently retired Consultant Clinical Scientist and former Head of the Regional Genetics Lab in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, who introduced the test within his Belfast Laboratory screen for suspected cases of FH:

“The launch of this new clinically available test is a key milestone in the detection and diagnosis of FH. Current FH diagnostic tests require a large volume of samples to be batched, leading to lengthy turnaround times of two to three months. With the new test, the turnaround time is dramatically reduced, enabling more rapid patient diagnosis.”

Dr. Graham also highlighted the importance of improving detection rates through the screening of wider patient populations:

“This new test has the potential to enable FH screening to become routine in the clinical setting for improved detection and earlier identification of familial cases.”

Dr. Peter FitzGerald, Managing Director of Randox Laboratories said:

“In the battle against cardiovascular disease, people with FH are on the front line. It is important to raise awareness of FH as many people do not even know that they and their family members have this life-threatening condition. There is so much that can be done to support families with FH and with this readily available and much-needed test, detecting and treating entire families with FH is now possible.”

Join us to raise awareness of FH on social media with the hashtag: #KnowFH

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1-The FH Foundation