Cardiobrief raises questions of disease-mongering & conflicts of interest in familial hypercholesterolemia guidance

On his Cardiobrief blog, Larry Husten introduces:

“…the first of a three-part series on the National Lipid Association. This first part focuses on the NLA’s publication of a series of papers offering expert guidance on familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) and raises serious questions about the role of industry in the documents. The second part explores additional questions about the NLA’s relationships with industry and the management of the organization. In the third part the NLA answers questions sent to them about some of the issues raised in this series.”

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Marilyn Mann

May 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm

There is no question that FH is a genuine disease, one that causes early heart disease in a high percentage of cases if untreated. I think where the disease mongering comes in is in an “awareness” campaign aimed at the general public. This just isn’t going to work if your aim is really to diagnose people with FH. FH is just not a disease the average person can self-diagnose. It takes a knowledgeable person to do it. So to the extent this campaign motivates anyone to go to their doctor to ask if they have FH, the yield will be very low. Only 1/500 people in the U.S. have heterozygous FH, so most of those people will not turn out to have it.
Some of them will get put on a statin anyway though!