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Cholesterol screening scheme launched

Thousands of people in Wales who may be unaware that they are suffering from an inherited condition that significantly raises the risk of a heart attack are to be identified through screening.

The condition, hypercholesterolaemia (FH), causes high levels of cholesterol from birth and can lead to coronary heart disease in young adults if not treated.

Because of its seriousness, the Welsh assembly government is funding a screening programme to be rolled out later this year in partnership with the British Heart Foundation (BHF),

Says health minister Edwina Hart: "It is important that we are able to identify people early to give them the help and support to enable them to live life to the full."

Dr Phil Thomas, the assembly government's lead cardiac adviser, says that the "family cascade system" will use DNA genotyping combined with cholesterol testing, linked to the clinical genetic service.

It is believed that up to 4,800 may not know they have the condition. Lifestyle changes and medication can reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease in people with FH.

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