Familial dysbetalipoproteinemia is a disorder passed down through families. It causes high amounts of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
A genetic defect causes this condition. The defect results in the buildup of large lipoprotein particles that contain both cholesterol and a type of fat called triglycerides. The disease is linked to defects in the gene for apolipoprotein E in many cases.
Hypothyroidism, obesity, or diabetes can make the condition worse. Risk factors for familial dysbetalipoproteinemia include a family history of the disorder or coronary artery disease.
Symptoms may not be seen until age 20 or older.
Yellow deposits of fatty material in the skin called xanthomas may appear on the eyelids, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, or on the tendons of the knees and elbows.
Other symptoms may include:
Tests that may be done to diagnose this condition include:
The goal of treatment is to control conditions such as obesity, hypothyroidism, and diabetes.
Making diet changes to reduce calories, saturated fats, and cholesterol may help lower blood cholesterol.
If cholesterol and triglyceride levels are still high after you have made diet changes, your health care provider may have you take medicines as well. Medicines to lower blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels include:
People with this condition have a significantly increased risk for coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease.
With treatment, most people are able to greatly reduce their levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
Complications may include:
Call your provider if you have been diagnosed with this disorder and:
Screening the family members of people with this condition may lead to early detection and treatment.
Getting treated early and limiting other risk factors such as smoking can help prevent early heart attacks, strokes, and blocked blood vessels.
Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.