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Familial combined hyperlipidemia


Definition:

Familial combined hyperlipidemia is a disorder that is passed down through families. It causes high cholesterol and high blood triglycerides.

Alternative Names:

Multiple lipoprotein-type hyperlipidemia

Causes:

Familial combined hyperlipidemia is the most common genetic disorder that increases blood fats. It can cause early heart attacks. However, researchers have not yet found which specific genes cause it.

Diabetes, alcoholism, and hypothyroidism make the condition worse. Risk factors include a family history of high cholesterol and early coronary artery disease.

Symptoms:

In the early years there may be no symptoms.

When symptoms appear, they may include:

  • Chest pain (angina) or other signs of coronary artery disease; may be present at a young age
  • Cramping of one or both calves when walking
  • Sores on the toes that do not heal
  • Sudden stroke-like symptoms, such as trouble speaking, drooping on one side of the face, weakness of an arm or leg, and loss of balance

People with this condition develop high cholesterol or high triglyceride levels as teenagers. The levels remain high all during life. Those with familial combined hyperlipidemia have an increased risk of early coronary artery disease and heart attacks. They also have higher rates of obesity and are more likely to have glucose intolerance.

Outlook (Prognosis):

How well you do depends on:

  • How early the condition is diagnosed
  • When you start treatment
  • How well you follow your treatment plan

Without treatment, heart attack or stroke may cause early death.

Even with medicine, some people may continue to have high lipid levels that increase their risk of heart attack.

Possible Complications:

  • Early atherosclerotic heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Seek immediate medical care if you have chest pain or other warning signs of a heart attack.

Call your health care provider if you have a personal or family history of high cholesterol levels.

Prevention:

A diet that is low in cholesterol and saturated fat may help to control LDL levels in people at high risk.

If someone in your family has this condition, you may want to consider genetic screening for yourself or your children. Sometimes younger children may have mild hyperlipidemia.

It is important to control other risk factors for early heart attacks, such as smoking.

References:

Genest J, Libby P. Lipoprotein disorders and cardiovascular disease. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 47.

Semenkovich, CF. Disorders of lipid metabolism. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 213.


Review Date: 5/20/2014
Reviewed By: Larry A. Weinrauch MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Cardiovascular Disease and Clinical Outcomes Research, Watertown, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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