'I was diagnosed with high cholesterol after a work colleague made a comment about my face'

Man holding his face

Bryan was diagnosed with high cholesterol after a colleague spotted white marks under his eyes

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Adam Chapman

By Adam Chapman

Published: 28/02/2024

- 12:43

Shortly after receiving his diagnosis, Bryan's worst fears were realised

A father and husband found out he had high cholesterol after a comment was made about his face.

Bryan started Googling after his work colleague noticed he had white marks under his eyes.

"I'd been aware of it but I ignored it," he told Heart UK.

After looking into what could be causing this symptom, the same two words kept on cropping up: familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH).

Symptoms of FH can include yellowish clumps around the eyes

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FH is a form of hereditary high cholesterol.

In the UK, FH is thought to affect about one in 500 people, which means approximately 120,000 people are thought to be affected.

A doctor confirmed Bryan's initial suspicion and he was diagnosed with FH.

As it runs in the family, he immediately got his children tested and his worst fears were confirmed: one of his children had FH.

Thankfully, it was caught in time, to Bryan and his wife's immense relief.

As the dad points out, the longer FH goes untreated, the greater the risk "your arteries firm up", which leaves you vulnerable to heart disease.

FH - everything you need to know

FH is caused by a gene alteration inherited from a parent, rather than an unhealthy lifestyle.
Symptoms can include:
  • Bumps or lumps around your knees, knuckles, or elbows
  • Swollen or painful
  • Achilles tendon
  • Yellowish areas around your eyes
  • A whitish gray color in the shape of a half-moon on the outside of your cornea
People with familial hypercholesterolaemia have raised cholesterol from birth, which can lead to the early development of heart problems, such as atherosclerosis and CHD.
Person cutting up tomatoes as part of a healthy dietMost people can kick their high cholesterol levels by improving their diet and exercising more Getty Images

There’s a one in two (50 percent) chance that a child or brother or sister of someone with familial hypercholesterolaemia will also have the condition.

It's worth noting that most people will not get symptoms and you can only find out if you have it by getting a blood test.

And, although FH is one of the most common inherited conditions, high cholesterol levels are generally the result of an unhealthy lifestyle.

"You can lower your cholesterol by eating healthily and getting more exercise. Some people also need to take medicine," explains the NHS.

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