Lishman Health Foundation prompting cholesterol questions

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Bunbury’s David Harley talks to Dr Andrew Kirke about his cholesterol.
Camera IconBunbury’s David Harley talks to Dr Andrew Kirke about his cholesterol. Credit: South Western Times/Bunbury Herald, Jon Gellweiler

The Lishman Health Foundation has urged South West residents with a known family history of cholesterol problems to be checked from an early age.

Familial Hypercholesterolaemia is an inherited condition that causes high cholesterol an earlier age than normal.

Dr Andrew Kirke said most people knew a healthy lifestyle and diet contributed to cholesterol levels, but few were aware cholesterol problems could run in the family.

“For those families with high cholesterol it can mean heart diseases from an early age,” he said.

“It’s important to know this so that you can be checked, and then if there is a problem you can treat it early enough that it can be effective.

“In the whole population we think between one in 300 and one in 500 will have the inherited condition, but if you take into account high cholesterol, it gets down to one in six.

“The classic story would be having a father or mother who had heart disease in their 40s and a grandparent with a similar sort of thing.”

Bunbury’s David Harley knew his father had cholesterol concerns but was not checked until one day he felt pins and needles in his arms while at the gym.

“We knew there had been problems in the family, but we didn’t understand the gene issue – it was more so that I’d take tablets and eat better to be fine,” he said. “Now I know it’s a gene factor I’ve been able to tell my kids that they really need to keep an eye on it straight away even with a healthy diet.”

Dr Kirke said the focus of the campaign was for people to start asking questions of each other and their doctors.

“Ask the questions within your family ‘Do you have high cholesterol?’ and ‘What are you doing about it?’ and ask the questions of your GP,” he said.

“I can say as a GP I have missed patients with this condition – in fact I didn’t think in David’s situation that it would be the case for him until long after the event.

“It’s very easy to get caught up in the immediate issues and miss the longer term ones like this.”

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