Know the score

19 September 2016

Doctors from the Royal Free London (RFL) have spoken to sports students at Leyton Orient Football Club to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). 

On Tuesday 13 September biochemists from the RFL held a series of workshops at Leyton Orient for their BTEC sports students aimed at raising awareness of FH. The doctors gave advice on FH, cholesterol and heart attacks, how your diet can affect cholesterol and how to test for cholesterol if you have a positive family history of premature CVD. 

FH is an inherited form of high cholesterol. It is caused by a defect in a gene which controls the way cholesterol is managed in the body. There are thought to be 120,000 people in the UK with FH, however only 20,000 cases have been diagnosed, pointing to at least 100,000 cases of undiagnosed FH in the UK.

Dr Devaki Nair, consultant and honorary senior lecturer in clinical biochemistry at the RFL, said: “We wanted to do this as our two clinical nurse specialists took part in a project which was funded by the British Heart Foundation, where we went through 49,979 primary medical records from north and east London.

“They found that 6,524 had a cholesterol measurement, and 69 of these people met the criteria for a diagnosis of FH and were offered genetic testing. Of this group, 22 tested with a positive mutation, two results have not come back and 45 were negative. From the 22 who tested positive, there are 73 potential relatives who could now have an earlier diagnosis of FH.

“Of the test group 40% were aged 18-40, and of this group 80% had never had a cholesterol test before. In the NHS, cholesterol tests are only offered to those over the age of 40. It was great to work with students at Leyton Orient, as we were presented with the opportunity to identify FH in younger people who are currently missing out. Testing at this age group could save the NHS a lot of money as detecting FH earlier makes it easier to prevent heart attacks.”

Notes to editors

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About the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Free began as a pioneering organisation and continues to play a leading role in the care of patients. Our mission is to provide world class expertise and local care. In the 21st century, the Royal Free London continues to lead improvements in healthcare.

The Royal Free London attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver and kidney transplantation, haemophilia, renal care, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, Parkinson's disease, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and we are a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.

In July 2014 Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital became part of the Royal Free London. Read 'A bigger trust, a better future'.