Familial hypercholesterolemia and COVID-19: A menacing but treatable vasculopathic condition

Vuorio A, Strandberg TE, Raal F, et al.


Atheroscler Plus

First published: August 8, 2021  DOI: 10.1016/j.athplu.2021.08.001


SARS-CoV-2 infection continues to cause increased morbidity and mortality, and due to the slow pace of vaccination COVID-19 will probably remain a global burden to health systems for a long time. Unfortunately, the necessary prevention and treatment strategies of COVID-19 have led to restriction measures that are hampering the routine care of common chronic metabolic conditions like hypercholesterolemia. It is of particular concern that during the acute phase of COVID-19, the control of pre-existing metabolic diseases tends to get worse which again increases the risk for complications and a poor outcome in these patients. A significant contributor to these complications is endothelial dysfunction which is associated with COVID-19. This Commentary will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on endothelial function particularly in patients with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), a metabolic inherited disease known to in itself adversely affect endothelial function. There should be no hesitation to continue with statin therapy in severe hypercholesterolemic patients with COVID-19. We argue that in FH patients with COVID-19 the clinicians need even consider intensifying statin therapy as well as the addition of other lipid-lowering agents, such as proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9(PCSK9) inhibitors. In contrast to statins, the PCSK9 inhibitors lower lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] level, and, accordingly, these latter drugs need to be considered particularly in FH patients with an elevated level of Lp(a). This call applies to the in-hospital stay and also beyond. When considering that the vasculopathic effects of COVID-19 may persist, a long-term follow-up of individualized therapies in FH patients is warranted.

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