Vol 82, No 2 (2024)
Review paper
Published online: 2024-02-06

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Aortic valve and arterial calcification in patients with familial hypercholesterolemia

Małgorzata Waluś-Miarka123, Anna Polus4, Barbara Idzior-Waluś1
DOI: 10.33963/v.phj.98945
Pubmed: 38348620
Pol Heart J 2024;82(2):144-155.


Heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (heFH) is an autosomal dominant lipid metabolism disorder. Its prevalence is 1:250–1:300 people in the population. Patients with heFH have an up to 13-fold increased risk of premature coronary artery disease (CAD). If left untreated, men and women with heFH typically develop early CAD before the ages of 55 and 60, respectively.
There is evidence that coronary artery calcification (CAC) and aortic valve calcification (AoVC) are more prevalent in FH patients than in the general population. It is documented that CAC and AoVC are predictors of increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in heFH patients, like in the general population. However, the etiology and pathogenesis of vascular calcification in FH patients is not well understood. Risk factors for vascular calcification include age, increased levels of atherogenic lipoproteins, Lp(a), increased blood pressure, and inflammation. There are convincing data from clinical studies and animal atherosclerotic mouse models using low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDL-R) knockout mice that the vascular calcification processes in FH are associated with LDL-R mutations, probably partly due to a higher total cholesterol burden of FH subjects. Data from animal models as well as clinical studies indicate that the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway components and LDL receptor-related proteins 5 and 6 (LRP-5/6) might be involved in calcification processes in FH patients.
The purpose of the review is to describe the prevalence of coronary and aortic calcification and its risk factors in FH patients. The review covers data about the role of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway and factors modulating calcification processes.

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Polish Heart Journal (Kardiologia Polska)