The Silent, Undetected Cause of Early Heart Disease Katherine Wilemon and Dr. Mary McGowan from the Family Heart Foundation Discuss a Genetic Risk Factor that Affects 1 in 5 People
New York, NY | March 17, 2022 04:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time
One in 5 people worldwide have high Lipoprotein(a) – sometimes referred to as “L-P-little a” – an important genetic risk factor for premature heart disease and stroke. If you have a family history of early heart disease or have been told that heart disease “runs in your family,” but you’ve never been told why, it’s important to know if you have high Lp(a). Recently, founder and CEO Katherine Wilemon and chief medical officer Dr. Mary McGowan from the Family Heart Foundation, participated in a nationwide satellite media tour to discuss this silent, undetected cause of early heart disease.
A video accompanying this announcement is available at: https://youtu.be/Tl08nDPSy9k
Genetic disorders driving early cardiovascular disease are very common, but almost never diagnosed. Elevated levels of Lp(a) increase the risk of inflammation, blood clotting and clogging — or plaque buildup — inside your blood vessels, which can block the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart or brain and cause a heart attack or stroke.
Almost everyone gets tested for high cholesterol, but in the U.S. fewer than 1% are screened for Lp(a). It’s important to know that Lp(a) levels are inherited — they’re unrelated to diet, exercise, obesity, and lifestyle. To find out if you’re affected, ask for a simple blood test to check your Lipoprotein(a). An Lp(a) test measures the level of Lipoprotein(a) in your blood. People might be surprised to know that this test is not part of a standard blood test that provides your cholesterol levels, so their doctor will need to order it directly.
In order to create awareness worldwide of Lp(a), the Family Heart Foundation established the first annual Lp(a) Awareness Day on March 24. People can join the movement by following the Family Heart Foundation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and sharing our messages about Lp(a) with friends and family. We aim to make a difference for those who have never heard of this common genetic condition.
The Family Heart Foundation is addressing gaps in care through research, advocacy and awareness. The Family Heart Foundation aims to save generations of families from early heart disease by helping those at risk get the information they need to protect themselves and their family. For more information, visit MoreFamiliesMoreHearts.org
About Katherine Wilemon:
A decade ago, founder and CEO Katherine Wilemon created the Family Heart Foundation (formerly the FH Foundation) to improve early diagnosis and treatment of familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). Katherine had a heart attack at the age of 39, a diagnosis of familial hypercholesterolemia at 41, and, years later, she found out she also had elevated levels of lipoprotein(a). At the time of her diagnosis, Katherine realized that genetic disorders driving early cardiovascular disease were very common, but almost never diagnosed, leaving 9 out of those affected at high risk for the number one cause of death and illness. She resolved to bridge this enormous gap in diagnosis, because with early and accurate diagnosis, individuals can live decades longer without debilitating cardiovascular disease. She has led the Family Heart Foundation as it became a national catalyst for the research, education, awareness and support needed at every level of healthcare and public policy to prevent the early and devasting impact of genetic causes of heart disease and strokes including Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) and elevated Lipoprotein(a). Her vision and the mission of the Family Heart Foundation is to transform the lives of millions of families by assuring that everyone has the knowledge required to fight the early onset of heart attacks and strokes
About Dr. Mary McGowan:
Dr. Mary P. McGowan is the Chief Medical Officer of the Family Heart Foundation and the Co-Director of the Lipid Clinic at Dartmouth Hitchcock Heart and Vascular Center. Dr. McGowan received her medical degree from the University of Massachusetts and remained at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center for both internship and residency. She completed her fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and is the author of numerous articles and five books. She has been the principal investigator on more than 30 national and international clinical trials and has lectured widely in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia on cholesterol metabolism. Dr. McGowan has previously served on the alumni board at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, the National Lipid Association Board of Directors and the NH Affiliate of the American Heart Association Board. Dr. McGowan lives in Bedford, NH with her husband, and they have three children.
About the Family Heart Foundation:
The Family Heart Foundation is a non-profit research and advocacy organization. The Foundation is a pioneer in the application of real-world evidence, patient-driven advocacy, and multi-stakeholder education to help prevent heart attacks and strokes caused by familial hypercholesterolemia and elevated lipoprotein(a), two common genetic disorders that have an impact across generations. The Family Heart Foundation conducts innovative research to break down barriers to diagnosis and management of inherited lipid disorders; educates patients, providers, and policy makers; advocates for change; and provides hope and support for families impacted by heart disease and stroke caused by FH, HoFH, and high Lp(a). The organization was founded in 2011 as the FH Foundation. For more information, visit FamilyHeart.org and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.