PHILADELPHIA. (KFSN) --Thousands of people have it, but they don't have a clue they do until it may be too late and that number includes children. We have the details on "it" and what can be done to avoid its potentially fatal consequences.
Michelle Watts told Ivanhoe, "She could have a heart attack at any time."
At first glance, seven-year-old Avery Watts is the picture of good health, but her cholesterol level was 800!
Michelle, Avery's mother explained, "It was, I think a lot of shock and disbelief and oh my goodness what does that even mean?"
It means Avery has familial hypercholesterolemia - a genetic condition that causes extremely high levels of bad cholesterol, known as LDL. Both her parents have a form of FH, but Avery's is a lot worse.
Kristi Fitzgerald, Genetic Counselor at Nemours DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware told Ivanhoe, "It's a very serious and scary condition. It puts people at risk for premature cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke and can be lethal."
Michelle said, "It's very scary to think about what could have happened; I try not to go there."
But thanks to a process called apheresis, which filters out the bad cholesterol, Avery's level plummets to 100. Every two weeks, her parents drive three hours each way to the hospital for the process that's similar to dialysis.
Heart specialists say every child should get a simple cholesterol test between nine and 11 years of age. And if there's a family history of FH, get your child tested at two.
Michelle told Ivanhoe, "Absolutely talk to your doctor about getting tested; it could change your children's life, it could change your life; it definitely changed our entire family's life in the past year."