Event raises awareness of danger of Familial Hypercholesterolemia
September 24 is Familial Hypercholesterolemia Awareness Day, established by the FH Foundation in 2012. The purpose of the day – and related events – is to raise awareness of the dangers of high cholesterol, which can lead to the onset of heart disease, heart attacks or strokes. Often, many have no idea they have high cholesterol and don’t realise they are at risk.
Yet a simple test (a single prick of the finger), portable diagnostic equipment and one or two minutes is all it takes to get a result. To mark the day, Diagnóza FH together with Charles University in cooperation with additonal experts and organisations offered free testing this Thursday at the Carolinum: hundreds of visitors took the opportunity to find out whether their cholesterol levels were within norms, elevated or high.
CU’s Rector Tomáš Zima spoke ahead of the event:
“It is important to remind the public again of the dangers of high cholesterol and – if you suffer from the condition – that there are crucial steps you can take, from adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle to different treatments. These can lower the overall risk.”
Those interested or recommended to seek out medical advice had the advantage of being able to follow up with experts - doctors and nutritionists – on site.
I spoke to Dr. Martin Šatný from the 3rd Medical Department at the First Faculty of Medicine Charles University and General University Hospital in Prague:
“We want more and more people to realise just how dangerous Familial Hypercholesterolemia is: it’s the most common inherited defect suffered by some 40,000 people in the Czech Republic. Yet just one in four – some 10,000 people -know they have it. The rest do not. That’s why it is vital to increase public awareness.”
Because of the hereditary defect, a person can follow a healthy lifestyle and display no outward signs, but still be at high risk; in the case of FH, the hereditary defect hampers their body’s ability to recycle bad cholesterol and their levels remain high and the danger of cardiovascular disease increases. Dr.Šatný again:
“Someone with FH displays no symptoms, does not have to be overweight and can be active in sports. Yet they have high cholesterol that increases the dangers of cardiovascular disease. When we treat a patient, we account for numerous factors that make up their overall cardiovascular risk: do they smoke, are they overweight, do they suffer from high blood pressure, do they have diabetes.
“Once we assess those factors and get an overall picture, we can take concrete steps. The first is recommending a ‘rational’ diet plan, where it is not only about what you eat, but how much. There is an emphasis on veg and fruit, but for example you still have to take into account high sugars in fruit, so all of this plays a role.”
Medicines of course also help and play an important role but what is crucial is that patients who are diagnosed early realise they first need to adjust their lifestyles appropriately. Experts urge individuals from students to pensioners to have their cholesterol checked at their doctor's and to take vital steps, if needed, to improve their health and lower cholesterol effectively before it's too late.
A list of organisations that came together to make testing at the Carolinum possible:
Diagnóza FH, z. s. Národní screeningové centrum Ústavu zdravotnických informací a statistiky ČR, mezinárodní studentská organizace IFMSA, Česká Asociace preventivní kardiologie and Sekce výživy a nutriční péče, z. s. Expert guarantor: Česká společnost pro aterosklerózu.