Angina: pain or discomfort which occurs when the heart does not receive adequate blood flow. Angina may be experienced in the chest, neck, jaw, arms, shoulder or back.
Angioplasty: (AN-jee-oh-plas-tee) is a procedure used to open blocked or narrowed coronary arteries (1). The procedure improves blood flow to the heart muscle. During angioplasty, a small balloon catheter is inserted into an artery in the groin or arm, and advanced to the narrowing in the coronary artery (2). The balloon is then inflated to enlarge the narrowing in the artery (3). A stent may be inserted to act as a ‘scaffold’ to help keep the artery open (4).
Apolipoprotein: protein component of lipoproteins. Fat (lipo) + protein = lipoprotein
Apolipoprotein A1: major protein component of HDL.
Apolipoprotein B: protein component of LDL.
Atheroma: LDL cholesterol deposits in the wall of the arteries, also called plaque.
Atherosclerosis: the process where LDL cholesterol is deposited in the walls of the arteries causing them to narrow and eventually become blocked.
Autosomal dominant: means you only need to get the ‘faulty’ gene from one parent in order for you to inherit the condition.
Bile acids: the liver produces bile acids from cholesterol. Bile acids are excreted into the intestine when we eat. Bile acids help fat to be absorbed.
Bile acid binding resins: a group of medications that lower cholesterol by working in the intestine.
BMI (Body Mass Index): is a quick way to check weight status e.g. to determine if you are a healthy weight for your height.
Cardiovascular: relates to the heart (cardio) and blood vessels (vascular).
Cardiovascular disease: any disease of the heart (cardio) and blood vessels (vascular). Atherosclerosis and high blood pressure are the most common cardiovascular diseases.
Cascade screening: is a mechanism for identifying people at risk for FH by a process of systematic family tracing.
Cholesterol: a waxy substance that circulates in the blood and plays a role in the formation of plaque.
Cholesterol absorption inhibitors: a group of medications that lower cholesterol by reducing its reabsorption in the intestine.
Compound heterozygous FH: if you inherit two ‘faulty’ LDL receptor genes from both of your parents (both parents have FH), then none of the LDL receptors work. If the two ‘faulty’ LDL receptor genes are different types,* it is called compound heterozygous FH. This is a very rare and very serious form of FH. *There are over a 1,000 different types of LDL receptor mutations.
Corneal arcus: cholesterol deposits in the cornea of the eye.
Coronary arteries: these are the arteries on the surface of the heart that bring fresh blood, carrying oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle.
Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (also called CABG, or “cabbage”): when a healthy artery is taken from another part of your body and grafted so as to ‘bypass’ the blockage and restore blood flow to the heart muscle.
Coronary artery disease (CAD): also called heart disease or coronary heart disease (CHD). A condition in which the arteries supplying the heart muscle become narrowed or blocked by LDL cholesterol and lack of oxygen causes tissue damage.
Diabetes: a condition in which the body does not produce or respond to insulin (a hormone produced by your body, which allows blood glucose to move into your body’s cells for energy).
Dietitian: a person qualified in diet and the management of diet in disease.
Enzyme: a protein which helps to speed up chemical reactions in your body.
Erectile dysfunction: a consistent inability to sustain an erection.
Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (FH): FH is an inherited disorder, which caused high LDL cholesterol from birth. This results in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease specifically coronary artery disease at an early age (men before the age of 55 and women before the age of 60).
Family history: the family structure and relationships within the family, including information about diseases in family members e.g. age relatives developed cardiovascular disease, had heart attacks, died etc.
Gene: a unit of hereditary which is transferred from parent to child and carries some characteristic to the child e.g. ‘how to make an LDL receptor’.
Heart attack: when one of the arteries supplying the heart muscle with blood is partly or totally blocked and the muscle is not getting sufficient oxygen resulting in tissue damage.
Heterozygous FH: if you inherited one ‘faulty’ LDL receptor gene from one of your parents, 50% of your LDL receptors don’t work.
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL): is the ‘good’ cholesterol because it helps to protect against cardiovascular disease.
Homozygous FH: if you inherit two ‘faulty’ LDL receptor genes from both of your parents (both parents have FH), then none of the LDL receptors work. If the two ‘faulty’ LDL receptor genes are the same type* it is called homozygous FH. This is a very rare and very serious form of FH. *There are over a 1,000 different types of LDL receptor mutations.
LDL receptor: the ‘door’ which allows the LDL cholesterol to be moved from the blood into the liver.
Lipids: another name for fats.
Lipoprotein: a combination of fat and protein that transports lipids (fats) in the blood.
Lipoprotein (a) or Lp(a): a genetic variation of LDL cholesterol. Lp(a) is not well understood but high levels are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Lipoprotein apheresis: is a treatment, similar to dialysis for renal patients, to reduce the LDL cholesterol (and occasionally Lp(a)) in the blood.
Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL): is called ‘bad’ cholesterol because it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
mmol/L: a unit of measurement, used in Australia to describe how much of a substance is in the blood e.g. LDL cholesterol is 2.5 mmol/L.
Mutation: a ‘fault’ in the genetic material which is passed from parent to child.
Passive smoking: inhalation of smoke that comes from someone else smoking.
Peripheral artery disease: a condition in which the arteries supplying the peripheral parts (not heart and brain) of the body become narrowed or blocked and lack of oxygen causes tissue damage e.g. leg pain when walking (intermittent claudication) and erectile dysfunction in men.
Plant sterols: sterols and cholesterol are similar in structure so they compete for absorption in the small intestine; the plant sterols stop the cholesterol from being absorbed.
Plaque: deposits of cholesterol in the walls of the arteries. The plaque builds up and narrows the artery.
Predictive genetic testing: refers to testing of an individual who currently does not have symptoms or signs of a condition, but who might be at an increased risk due to their family history.
Psyllium: is the outer husk from the seed of the plant Plantago ovato. Regular consumption can reduce LDL cholesterol.
Registry: is a place where medical information, family history and other related information from patients is collected and stored.
Risk factor: factors which increase the likelihood of getting a disease.There are modifiable risk factors which can be changed by lifestyle and/or medication and non-modifiable risk factors which cannot be changed by lifestyle or medication.
Saturated fat: these fats increase LDL cholesterol and should be avoided; found in fatty meat, full fat dairy, commercially baked and fried food, chocolate, coconut and palm oil.
Statins: a group of medications that lower cholesterol by blocking its production in the liver.
Stent: an expandable, slotted metal tube that is inserted into an artery. A stent acts as a ‘scaffold’ to provide structural support for the artery to keep it open.
Stroke: a stroke occurs when an artery supplying blood to a part of the brain becomes blocked and lack of oxygen causes tissue damage.
Trans fats: increase LDL cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol) and decrease HDL cholesterol (‘good’ cholesterol), should be avoided; found in commercially baked and fried food, look for the word ‘hydrogenated’, in the ingredients list.
Treadmill: a machine with a moving strip on which one walks without moving forward.
Triglycerides: a type of fat found in the blood. High levels are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Total cholesterol: the total amount of cholesterol in the blood; includes LDL, triglyceride and HDL.
Xanthelasma: cholesterol deposits commonly found on the skin of the upper or lower eyelids and is often associated with high cholesterol levels.
Xanthomas: cholesterol deposits commonly found in the tendons of the hand and the Achilles tendon and is often associated with high cholesterol levels.