People with familial hypercholesterolemia, heart disease, or both, who were infected with Covid-19 have experienced more heart attacks according to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Cardiology by the Familial Hypercholesterolemia Foundation.
It is the first to show higher rates of heart attacks among people with genetic high cholesterol. Research also relevantly confirms that Covid-19 increases heart attack rates in people with established atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
The US FH Foundation conducted an analysis one 55.412.462 individuals, separating groups into six paired cohorts that include Diagnosed HF, probable HF, and established atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, with and without Covid-19 infection.
The researchers found that heart attack rates were higher in those with a diagnosis of Covid-19 and the presence of HF, diagnosed or probable, and with established atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
“These results are important because they underscore the importance of knowing whether people have underlying cardiovascular disease or genetic high cholesterol when treating Covid-19 infection or considering vaccination,” explains study author Kelly Myers.
Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a hereditary disease that is expressed from birth, and that occurs with an increase in plasma cholesterol concentrations, mainly cholesterol transported by low-density lipoproteins (LDL-C).
It’s a disorder very frequent and it is estimated that at least 1 in 250 people in the general population has FH. In Spain, they are calculated in 190,000 people with HF.
The importance of its early diagnosis lies in the high risk of presenting a Myocardial infarction (MI) or other vascular atherosclerotic disease early in life. Cardiovascular disease manifests itself in more than 50% of patients with FH before the 55 years old.
The findings have important implications for people with FH who are currently undiagnosed, the researchers say. People with probable HF and pre-existing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease who contracted Covid had heart attacks at an annual rate seven times greater than their counterparts who did not contract the virus.
Researchers speculate that because these people have not yet received a diagnosis of FH, they may not be receiving adequate treatment to lower cholesterol levels. According Mary McGowan, study author and medical director of the FH Foundation, “this study is a wake-up call to diagnose people with this genetic disease.”