A total of 3025 families with schoolchildren aged 6-8 years were offered pilot screening for familial hypercholesterolaemia by measurement of the concentrations of apolipoproteins A-1 and B in the children's capillary blood and by analysis of their family histories of early ischaemic heart disease. The concentrations of the apolipoproteins were determined by double rocket immunoelectrophoresis of an eluate of blood spotted on filter paper. Results were available from 2085 children. Because their B:A-1 ratio was above the 97.5 centile and their concentration of B was above the 99th centile, 54 children (2.6%) were selected to have their apolipoprotein concentrations reassessed. The 17 children (0.8%) whose values were persistently above the chosen cut off points, and all of their available first and second degree relatives, had fasting determinations of serum lipid concentrations carried out. Raised serum concentrations of low density lipoprotein cholesterol and an autosomal dominant pattern of hypercholesterolaemia were found in 12 children and 10 families, respectively, suggesting a higher incidence of familial hypercholesterolaemia than the reported 1:500. Further investigations among family members disclosed hypercholesterolaemia in 29 relatives. A family history of early ischaemic heart disease was elicited by questionnaire, and was positive in only five of the 12 schoolchildren with hypercholesterolaemia. We conclude that analysis of apolipoproteins from capillary blood spotted on filter paper is suitable for screening for familial hypercholesterolaemia, and that this method is more efficient than screening based on family history.
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