Indexed on: 30 Aug '13Published on: 30 Aug '13Published in: Expert review of cardiovascular therapy
Familial hypercholesterolemia is an autosomal dominant disorder. Heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) has an estimated incidence of 1 per 300-500 births and is characterized by increased serum total- and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels and an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Early diagnosis and cholesterol-lowering treatment are essential to prevent premature coronary heart disease. Effective screening strategies are therefore of great importance. Screening can be done as selective or general population screening. There is no generally accepted screening program for FH in children and adolescents. In The Netherlands a systematic genetic family cascade screening program has been going on since 1994. In most countries there is no systematic screening for the disease, but clinical and genetic family cascade screening has been applied. Selective screening programs have failed to identify a large number of FH cases. Recommendations for general pediatric population screening have therefore emerged. Controversy exists as to which approach should be adopted. Family cascade screening has been estimated to be the most cost-effective screening method. No general pediatric screening program has been tested on a larger scale, validated or subjected to cost-benefit analyses.