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Doctors urged to screen families for heart defects.

THOUSANDS of relatives of people with a defect that causes heart attacks are to be screened to see if they are also at risk, a health watchdog said today.

Experts hope to identify up to 100,000 people with familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), a genetic defect that causes high cholesterol.

The condition causes the narrowing of the arteries to speed up, putting people at higher risk of heart attacks.

If left untreated, half of men with FH will have a heart attack by the age of 50 and a third of women will have one by the age of 60.

Around 15,000 people in the UK are known to have FH but health experts think around 95,000 more people are undiagnosed.

The gene is passed on in families and the plan is to screen first-degree relatives - parents, siblings and children - of those known to have FH.

Today's announcement, from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), recommends "cascade testing" of atrisk people in England.

Doctors are being urged to screen as many of these firstdegree relatives as possible, and Nice expects at least 50,000 will be identified as a result of the plan.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Aug 27, 2008
Words:197
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