New insights about an inherited form of high cholesterol

Although uncommon, this genetic condition is responsible for most heart attacks that occur at a young age.

cholesterol test
Very high LDL cholesterol levels usually result from dozens of genetic mutations that each raise LDL by a little bit.
Image: jarun011/Thinkstock

About one in 250 people has a genetic mutation that causes dangerously high cholesterol levels. Known as familial hypercholesterolemia, or FH, this condition can raise levels of harmful LDL cholesterol as high as 350 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)—more than three times higher than the desirable level of less than 100 mg/dL.

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