National Cholesterol Week launched to raise awareness of hypercholesterolaemia

Br J Cardiol 2010;17:259-63 Leave a comment
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HEART UK held its first ever National Cholesterol Week recently and highlighted the importance of knowing your cholesterol at a Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons. The Parliamentary Reception, sponsored by Welch’s Purple Grape Juice, was organised by HEART UK in conjunction with Chris Ruane MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heart Disease.

Caroline Dineage MP (left) having her cholesterol tested at the event
Caroline Dineage MP (left) having her cholesterol tested at the event

Over 80 MPs registered for the event and the charity is urging MPs to create ‘heart healthy’ constituencies. It estimates raised cholesterol affects two thirds of the population – it is particularly keen to raise awareness of familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), a condition that affects one in 500 people in the UK but is much underdiagnosed.

Although 120,000 people in the UK may have FH, only 15,000 have been diagnosed. Despite publication of the NICE clinical guidance on FH in 2008, the charity says little has been done in England to implement its recommendations, in stark contrast to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, where significant progress is taking place.

This warning follows the results from a study HEART UK commissioned in which Freedom of Information (FOI) requests were sent to Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England, asking questions about their progress to date with FH. Nearly 70% of PCTs responded.

Findings from the survey included:

  • a lack of formal planning for FH among many PCTs
  • incomplete knowledge about relevant FH services
    a shortage of specialist care for people with FH including adults, children and pregnant women 
  • PCTs also indicated that they face barriers to treating FH patients.

The survey and its findings will the subject of a future editorial in the journal.