THURSDAY, May 23, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Data from a blood donor screening program could represent a novel strategy for identifying familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), according to a study published online May 22 in JAMA Cardiology.

Candace L. Jackson, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues estimated the prevalence of FH in a population of blood donors aged 16 years and older who donated to Carter BloodCare. As part of a donor health screening program, Carter BloodCare routinely measures total nonfasting serum cholesterol levels. Deidentified data were included for 1,178,102 individual donors, with 3,038,420 blood donations.

The researchers identified 3,473 individuals who met the criteria for FH (one in 339), with a median total cholesterol of 332 mg/dL. Higher estimated prevalence was seen at younger versus older ages (<30 versus ≥30 years: 1:257 versus 1:469) and in men versus women (1:327 versus 1:351). Of 2,219 repeat donors who met criteria for FH at least once, 28.8 percent of the 10,833 total donations met the criteria for FH.

“Blood donation represents a novel and potentially cost-effective approach to identifying FH, particularly in younger individuals who are not engaged in the medical system,” the authors write. “Identifying possible cases of FH has important implications for early treatment as well as cascade screening of family members.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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