Elizabeth Fitch is a lot like other teenagers. She enjoys spending time with her buddies. She’s a member of her superior school’s dance workforce. She’s studying how to drive. What’s exceptional about the sixteen-year-outdated Massachusetts native, having said that, is a condition she was diagnosed with at age two: familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).

FH is a genetic condition that leads to pretty superior ranges of “terrible” cholesterol, or small-density lipoprotein (LDL), even in normally healthful individuals. This increases the risk of narrowing of the arteries from an early age, which can direct to heart attack and heart ailment.

The hazards of the condition are properly regarded in Elizabeth’s family. Her father, who was also diagnosed with FH, died of a heart attack in 2015 at the age of 43.

“The medical practitioners didn’t know he had [FH] right until he was about twenty, and he didn’t begin on medicine to lower his cholesterol right until he was about thirty,” claims Karen Fitch, Elizabeth’s mom. “He had all individuals years of cholesterol impacting his heart.”

Identified early

Elizabeth’s medical practitioners started screening her cholesterol when she was just two. Though a ordinary cholesterol stage for young children and adolescents is beneath one hundred seventy, Elizabeth’s was shut to four hundred. Prescription drugs to lower cholesterol, like statins, usually are not proposed right until age ten. But medical practitioners started her on a statin at age 9 owing to her superior ranges.

“Men and women are generally shocked when I inform them I have [FH] simply because I’m thin, I attempt to eat healthful, and I’m energetic,” she claims. “But simply because it is inherited, folks who have it may possibly have usually eaten healthful and exercised. You can’t get your cholesterol ranges down with diet and physical exercise by itself.”

Since her analysis, Elizabeth sees a workforce of medical practitioners each and every six months to a single year. Her care workforce involves her major care medical professional, a cardiologist, and a nutritionist. They observe her wellness and cholesterol ranges and inquire no matter whether she’s designed new signs these kinds of as chest suffering or shortness of breath. They also examine her nutrition and physical exercise behaviors, she claims.

Her blood is analyzed each and every six months, and based mostly on her cholesterol ranges and actual physical advancement, her medical practitioners may possibly make changes to her medicine.

Relevance of qualified help

“Mainly because I have regarded about it my complete lifetime, taking medicine and [going to] the doctors’ appointments are ordinary for me. It’s just come to be section of my routine,” Elizabeth claims.

For other individuals with FH, she stresses the value of often taking your medicine and remaining on best of doctors’appointments.

“The medicine is what will get your cholesterol down to a healthful stage,” she claims. “Question your medical practitioners queries. They are there to enable.”