UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science

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Blood screening that prevents heart attacks

HRH plaque

Familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) is an inherited cardiac condition that causes one person a day in the UK to have a heart attack

FH sufferers develop dangerously high levels of bad cholesterol in their blood at an early age. Doctors and nurses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland use a system called "cascade testing", which means that, once someone with FH has been identified, every member of their family is offered a blood test.

Now top doctors and heart charities are urging the NHS and ministers to introduce the system UK-wide. They say the move is urgent as only one in eight of the 120,000 people in the UK with FH have been identified. That means there are about 100,000 cardiac timebombs.

"Comprehensive cascade testing has been successfully trialled in Wales and must urgently be adopted throughout the UK," said Steve Humphries, professor of cardiovascular genetics at University College London. He said England's failure to follow the 2008 recommendation from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) to screen entire families amounted to "a great missed opportunity".

Read the full article in the Guardian

More on this story from BBC Wales