NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Throughout the entire month of September, KX news has been dedicating Fridays to bringing you the life hacks for a healthier heart.

It is Cholesterol Education Month, and in today’s Your Health First, we are digging deeper.

We spoke with a Sanford Health endocrinologist, who tells us cholesterol can be passed through genetics, with what’s known as familial hypercholesterolemia.

More commonly called FH, it’s a diagnosis that refers to individuals with very significantly elevated LDL cholesterol or “bad cholesterol”, as well as an increased risk of early onset of coronary artery disease if it’s not sufficiently treated.

And, you don’t have to be old to get it. 

“Patients can develop cardiovascular disease at a young age typically in their 30s and 40s and that’s very young to develop heart disease and the homozygous FH patient can develop heart disease at an extremely long age. Some kids even develop heart attacks at the age of eight or 10 so it is a very important condition to diagnose at an early age. The guidelines state that screenings should start at the age of two if there is a suspicion that there is FH in the family,” said Sanford Endocrinologist, Rohan Khthir. 

The CDC says FH is a genetic disorder, affecting about one in every 250 people.

It also increases your likelihood of having coronary heart disease at a younger age.

So, if you have a family history of heart disease or FH, it’s important to get screened.

“If anybody has any symptoms of just heart disease at a young age, and there are no other risk factors, that would be somebody that we should screen for that there are some skin conditions that sometimes can basically influence the screening for a FH presence of lipid accumulation around the eyelids, the antenna part of the eyelids, or around the cornea that can be suggestive if we see that in somebody who’s young now there are some lipid deposits, on the attendance of the hands, or the calluses on the leg that can be very suggestive that would be almost diagnostic, especially if it’s on the Achilles tendon, so thickening or swelling of the Achilles tendon, because of the fatty accumulation can be diagnostic of this condition and typically we screen for that”.

For more information on FH, visit Sanford Health’s website.