Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: High cholesterol can be a pain

Heart Beat

High cholesterol can be a pain

Pain in the Achilles tendon that isn't triggered by strain or an injury could be a sign of a genetic condition that can cause sky-high cholesterol levels. In people with this often overlooked condition, known as heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, cholesterol deposits can build up in tendons in the fingers, elbows, knees, and feet; the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel is one of the most common sites.

British researchers found that 47% of their patients with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia had one or more episodes of pain in an Achilles tendon that lasted three days or more, compared with 7% of people without the condition. These episodes often occurred years before the people were diagnosed with high cholesterol.

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