Familial Hypercholesterolemia | MedStar Health

An inherited disorder that increases a person’s risk for high cholesterol

People with familial cholesterolemia have a genetic mutation that changes how the body processes cholesterol. This can increase your risk of atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries, and heart disease at a young age.

The gene mutation is passed on from parent to child. If one parent has familial hypercholesterolemia, each child has a 50 percent risk of having the disorder. If both parents have the genetic mutation, their child may have a more severe form of the disorder.


Diagnosing a potential heart or vascular condition is the first step to developing a treatment plan. Our specialists may recommend one or more diagnostic and imaging procedures.


While lifestyle modifications, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, are the first line of defense, most people with familial hypercholesterolemia also will need to take a cholesterol-lowering medication.

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