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    Cholesterol Myths by Uffe Ravnskov MD: Familial hypercholesterolemia—not as risky as you may think

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Wednesday, November 12, 2014 10:32 am Email this article

    Many doctors believe that most patients with familial hypercholesterolemia (shortened FH) die from CHD at a young age. Obviously they do not know the surprising finding of a Scientific Steering Committee at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at Ratcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, England.[83] For several years, these researchers followed more than 500 FH-patients between the ages of 20 and 74 for several years and compared patient mortality during this period with that of the general population.

    During a three-to-four-year period, six of 214 FH-patients below age 40 died from CHD. This may not seem particularly frightening, but as it is rare to die from CHD before the age of 40, the risk for these FH patients was almost 100 times that of the general population.

    During a four-to-five-year period, eight of 237 FH-patients between ages 40 and 59 died, which was five times more than in the general population. But during a similar period of time, only one of 75 FH-patients between the ages of 60 and 74 died from CHD.

    If these results are typical for FH, you could say that, between ages 20 and 59, about three percent of the patients with FH died from CHD, and between ages 60 and 74, less than two percent died from CHD, fewer than in the general population.

    The authors stressed that the patients had been referred because of a personal or family history of premature vascular disease and therefore were at a particularly high risk for CHD. Most patients with FH in the general population are unrecognized and untreated. Maybe the prognosis of the Oxford patients would have been even better if they had been representative for all FH patients?

    Dr. Eric Sijbrands and his coworkers from various medical departments in Amsterdam and Leiden, Netherlands have the answer. The Dutch researchers screened a large number of healthy people and found three individuals with very high cholesterol. A genetic analysis confirmed the diagnosis of FH and by tracing their family members backwards they came up with a total of 412 individuals. The coronary and total mortality of these members were compared with the mortality of the general Dutch population.

    The striking finding was that the FH people had a normal mortality during the nineteenth and early twentieth century; in fact, mortality was even lower than in the general population during the nineteenth century. After 1915 the mortality rose to a maximum between 1935 and 1964, but even at the peak it was less than twice as high as in the general population.[84]

    Again, very high cholesterol does not lead to a heart attack by itself. High cholesterol may even be protective against other diseases. This was the conclusion of Dr. Sijbrands and his colleagues. As support they mentioned that genetically modified mice with high cholesterol are protected against severe bacterial infections.

    “Don’t be afraid, doctor, but my cholesterol is very high.” These were the words of a 50-year old lawyer who visited me for the first time for a health examination. And indeed, his cholesterol was high, over 400 mg/dl (10.3 mmol/l).

    “But my father’s cholesterol was even higher,” he added. “He lived happily until he died at age 79 from cancer. And his brother, who also had FH, died at age 83. None of them ever complained of any heart problems.”

    My “patient” is now 53, his brother is 56 and his cousin 61. All of them have extremely high cholesterol values, but none of them has any heart troubles, and none of them has ever taken cholesterol-lowering drugs.

    So, if you happen to have FH, don’t be too anxious. Your chances of surviving are pretty good, even surviving to old age.


    Here are links to the other chapters in the book.


    This chapter is from the book
    The Cholesterol Myths: Exposing the Fallacy that Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease
    by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD.

    Dr. Ravnskov has given me the permission to share this version of his book to help educate the world about the cholesterol campaign.

    Information about Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD is posted here.

    More information about Cholesterol Myths is posted on his website here.

    Dr. Ravnskov posted his book for free here.

    Several versions of the ebook can downloaded from Dropbox here or from SmashWords here.

    Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD is the founder of The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS.org) which can be found here.

    Articles on the same subject can be found here:


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