A detailed family history questionnaire collected from families of 35,000 sixteen year old high school students in Utah was used to identify population-based sibships with two or more living adults affected with hypertension under age 60 or coronary artery disease before age 55. Detailed clinical and biochemical evaluations performed during a four-hour visit to a research clinic provided data to test for concordant abnormalities in siblings with either early hypertension or early coronary heart disease. A new syndrome, familial dyslipidemic hypertension (FDH), was found in 48% of the hypertensive sibships. In these FDH subjects, 68% had HDL-cholesterol below the 10th percentile, 49% had triglyceride level above the 90th percentile, and 27% had LDL levels above the 90th percentile. When compared to normolipidemic hypertensive subjects, persons with FDH had significantly elevated fasting plasma insulin levels, increased subscapular skinfold thickness, increased knee width and wrist circumference, and increased levels of VLDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B. In coronary sibships, concordant abnormalities for lipids were consistent with familial combined hyperlipidemia in 30-40% of sibships, FDH in 15-45% of sibships, and low HDL-C (with normal cholesterol) in 10%. Concordant normal lipids were found in only 15% of sibships. These data suggest that inherited metabolic abnormalities likely explain some co-aggregation of hyperinsulinemia, obesity, hypertension, and early coronary heart disease. Current knowledge also suggests these metabolic abnormalities could be treated or prevented with appropriate modification in lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise as well as through the use of prescription medications.
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