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Toward a new clinical classification of patients with familial hypercholesterolemia: One perspective from Spain

      Highlights

      • There is a mismatch in clinical and genetic familial hypercholesterolemia diagnosis.
      • Familial hypercholesterolemia is a syndrome including several entities.
      • Monogenic and polygenic familial hypercholesterolemia determines high vascular risk.
      • Familial hypercholesterolemia diagnosis has implications to access new therapies.
      • A new classification including all FH genotypes and phenotypes is warranted.

      Abstract

      The introduction of singular therapies, such as proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 inhibitors (PCSK9i), to lower high cholesterol levels requires better classification of patients eligible for intensive lipid lowering therapy. According to the European Medicines Administration, PCSK9i are recommended in primary prevention only in familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) patients. Therefore, an FH diagnosis is not simply an academic issue, because it has many clinical implications. The bases of a diagnosis of FH are not entirely clear. The availability of genetic testing, including large genome-wide association analyses and whole genome studies, has shown that some patients with a clinical diagnosis of definite FH have no mutations in the genes associated with the disease. This fact does not exclude the very high cardiovascular risk of these patients, and an early and intensive lipid lowering therapy is recommended in all FH patients. Because an FH diagnosis is a cornerstone for decisions about therapies, a precise definition of FH is urgently required. This is an expert consensus document from the Spanish Atherosclerosis Society. We propose the following classification: familial hypercholesterolemia syndrome integrated by (1) heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia: patients with clinically definite FH and a functional mutation in one allele of the LDLR, ApoB:100, and PCSK9 genes; (2) homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia: mutations affect both alleles; (3) polygenic familial hypercholesterolemia: patients with clinically definite FH but no mutations associated with FH are found (to be distinguished from non-familial, multifactorial hypercholesterolemia); (4) familial hypercholesterolemia combined with hypertriglyceridemia: a subgroup of familial combined hyperlipidaemia patients fulfilling clinically definite FH with associated hypertriglyceridemia.

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