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Cardiologist Dan Rader has managed to detect a rare genetic medical condition which makes the individual 20 times more likely to have sky-high levels of cholesterol and other linked conditions, in several people so far, just by feeling their Achilles tendon.
It may sound like an unorthodox medical technique, but Rader, the head of preventive cardiology and human genetics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, feels the Achilles tendon to look for fatty build-ups which also occur in the knees, ankles or white arcs around the cornea of the eye.
The condition increases LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol significantly, increasing the risk of patients having heart attacks of suffering from early death. There is also a 50% chance that they pass the condition on to any children they may have.The hereditary condition that he’s looking for affects millions of people around the world each year, and makes them predisposed to suffering from high levels of cholesterol. ‘Familial Hypercholesterolemia’ is a common cause behind many cases of high cholesterol, especially younger patients, and is also one of the first medical conditions to be targeted by high profile drug companies.
By looking for early symptoms of high cholesterol, along with fatty build ups across the body, treatment can be developed so that patients and their family members could improve their chances of a long and healthy life.
New treatments have been developed for the condition and are known as PCSK9 inhibitors. These ‘wonder drugs’ tend to slash cholesterol levels in those who don’t respond to or who cannot take statins.