High prevalence of Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) in Canadian population must be addressed: awareness, early screening top priorities to prevent genetic heart disease and death

Friday, October 20, 2017 Heart Disease News
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Leading Canadian experts in FH and patient groups host an open forum today at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver,

highlighting the need for screening in children of FH patients

VANCOUVER, Oct. 20, 2017 /CNW/ - A recent Canadian study found that one in 250 Canadians have Familial Hypercholesterolemia

(FH) – a genetic disorder causing high levels of difficult-to-treat LDL or "bad" cholesterol – confirming the lipid disorder as the most common genetic disorder causing premature cardiovascular disease and death1.

Globally, one baby is born with FH every minute2. In Canada, more than 145,000 Canadians are estimated to have FH – a prevalence about two-fold higher than what was previously understood3. Most that are undiagnosed are children4.

The study's findings were published in the BMJ Open on September 5, 2017 and will be featured at an open Patient Forum put on by FH Canada and the Canadian Heart Patient Alliance (CHPA) today at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.

"We know that primary care physicians are key to early diagnosis and treatment, making education among the medical community important," said Durhane Wong-Rieger, PhD, CEO and founder of the Canadian Heart Patient Alliance. "However, patients, and especially parents, also need to be aware of potential risks. In addition to creating awareness around the genetic factors, importance of screening and available treatments for FH, the forum also provides diagnosed patients and their family members an opportunity to share their stories and experiences living with the condition."

Dr. Wong-Rieger added that since individuals with FH are highly susceptible to a life-threatening cardiac event before the age of 50, there is a public health imperative to identify children with this inherited disease – as early as possible. In fact, global research findings indicate that children with an FH diagnosed parent or applicable family history should be screened by the age of 10 to provide maximum benefit of existing treatment as early as possible5. International and Canadian experts agree: catching FH in early childhood is imperative to preventing cardiovascular disease, reducing "bad cholesterol" levels and improving coronary outcomes6 – all of which come down to timely screening and well-educated physicians that are adequately equipped to recognize the markers and provide a swift diagnosis7.

"The high prevalence of FH in the Canadian population represents a simultaneous public health problem as well as opportunity," said Dr. Jacques Genest, co-author on the BMJ study, co-founder of FH Canada and Cardiologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital of the McGill University Health Center in Montreal. "Public awareness and education among primary care physicians are critical for ensuring timely screening of patients for FH and early treatment, which can prevent cardiovascular issues and normalize life expectancy."

FH Canada and the CHPA's objectives for better screening and earlier diagnosis of FH in Canadians are further underscored by the fact that FH is notoriously challenging to treat. Medications commonly used to control and lower high cholesterol, such as statins, are often not as effective in reducing cholesterol levels in patients with FH, said Dr. Genest. However, more recent developments in cholesterol-lowering medications, such as the Canadian-discovered biologic class of PCSK9s, offer a new option for this difficult-to-treat patient group8. As an adjunct to diet and maximally tolerated statin therapy, PCSK9s have been approved for use in Canadian adults and adolescents aged 12 years and over diagnosed with FH and who require additional lowering of LDL cholesterol9.

"We are fortunate to have effective tools that help manage FH," adds Dr. Wong-Rieger.  "Screening high-risk children will create a better future for these patients and is an important discussion at our forum."

About the FH Canada Network

The FH Canada Network is a series of events and forums that take place across the country, bringing together the leading medical experts of the condition and the patients most affected by their work. The next forum takes place on Friday, October 20, 2017 at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver from noon to 6:30 p.m., ahead of the CCC, also taking place this weekend in Vancouver.

About FH Canada

The mission of FH Canada and the Canadian FH Registry is to bring together a multi-disciplinary group of physicians along with basic and clinical researchers to improve the delivery of care to patients with severe lipoprotein disorders, especially FH, and to foster collaborative research. Their vision is to create a Canada-wide network of academic clinics, integration lipid specialists, endocrinologists and cardiologists to treat patients with the highest standard of care and to create a collaborative research environment. Using a "hub and spoke" model, the registry will be extended in various communities to link primary care physicians with provincial academic centres, with a goal of improving care for patients with FH and reducing cardiovascular disease in this high-risk population.

About the Canadian Heart Patient Alliance

The CHPA is a patient-led nonprofit organization of patients, families, health professionals and supporters with a collective vision of reducing cardiovascular disease and preventing early death by taking action against genetic, environmental and lifestyle causes of cardiovascular disease. With a focus on high cholesterol and other lipid issues (both genetic and non-genetic factors), the CHPA works to create greater awareness of high cholesterol and other leading "silent" risk factors; promote screening for early diagnosis; reduce stigma associated with high cholesterol conditions; and promote education and coaching to help individuals make lifestyle changes to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The CHPA also advocates for patient-centred care, treatment and support for individuals at risk for and living with high cholesterol and other lipid disorders.

To speak with Dr. Genest or Dr. Wong-Rieger, please contact:

Sunil Suvarna Hill+Knowlton Strategiessunil.suvarna@hkstrategies.ca 778-772-5133604-692-4220

For more information, please contact:

Kendra Stephenson Hill+Knowlton Strategies kendra.stephenson@hkstrategies.ca  416-413-4696

References__________________________1 Estimating the prevalence of heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Leo E Akioyamen,1,2 Jacques Genest,3,4 Shubham D Shan,1,2 Rachel L Reel,1 Jordan M Albaum,1 Anna Chu,1,2 Jack V Tu1,2,5: BMJ Open, September 5, 2017. 2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4576143/ 3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4576143/ 4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4576143/ 5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4576143/ 6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4576143/ 7 Estimating the prevalence of heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Leo E Akioyamen,1,2 Jacques Genest,3,4 Shubham D Shan,1,2 Rachel L Reel,1 Jordan M Albaum,1 Anna Chu,1,2 Jack V Tu1,2,5: BMJ Open, September 5, 2017.8 Product Monograph https://www.amgen.ca/products/~/media/ae162719487c459391bd1b1584a25ead.ashx 9 Product Monograph https://www.amgen.ca/products/~/media/ae162719487c459391bd1b1584a25ead.ashx



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