My father, grandfather, and two of my uncles died of a heart attack before the age of 40

My father, grandfather, and two of my uncles died of a heart attack before the age of 40

By Emily Gushue, health correspondent for Dailymail.Com

13:42 20 January 2024, updated 14:44 20 January 2024

  • Brandon Wilson, 38, suffers from familial hypercholesterolemia
  • He is trying to break the cycle of heart disease that has claimed the lives of several members of his family
  • Read more: Scientists are on the verge of finding a cure for heart disease



Heart disease has torn apart Brandon Wilson’s life.

He was just seven years old when his father, 39, died of a fatal heart attack – which was later found to have been caused by an undiagnosed genetic condition.

His grandfather and two uncles died before the age of 40 due to heart complications caused by the disorder that claimed his half-brother at the age of 48.

This condition leads to clogged arteries with a dangerous type of cholesterol.

Now 38, Wilson has survived four major heart attacks and has vowed to break the vicious cycle and see his four-year-old daughter and five-year-old son grow up.

Brandon Wilson, 38, lost four family members to heart disease, many of whom were under the age of 35. He had long feared that he would not reach the age of forty.
Mr. Wilson suffers from familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disorder that results in high levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL). This greatly increases the risk of heart disease

For most of his life, Wilson feared the virus could kill him at any time, especially as his 39th birthday approached.

“That’s the way I saw it.” I wasn’t going to be over forty. I will live with the Wilson family curse and die at a young age. “And that was it,” he told DailyMail.com.

“There’s a lot of anxiety surrounding it. I kind of want to live in a bubble for a year. Getting to 40 is a big accomplishment for me, for a Wilson guy.

After his father died, Mr. Wilson’s mother subjected him and his siblings to a round of blood tests.

But it wasn’t until years later that she was diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disorder that affects those around them One in every 250 Americans It causes dangerously high levels of bad cholesterol (LDL).

This is a major risk factor in heart disease, which kills nearly 18 million adults in the world every year.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that can build up in the arteries that supply our organs with oxygenated blood.

This causes problems with blood flow around the body, making the heart work harder and increasing the chance of it weakening, leading to a heart attack and heart disease.

At the same time, the brain can be deprived of oxygen, increasing the risk of stroke.

“Basically I was diagnosed with it, and it runs in the family,” he said. “But it went on for about 20 years before I got a real diagnosis.”

“In my early 20s, I had chest pain, and I would go to the emergency room. No one would take me seriously. “You’re young. There’s nothing wrong with you.”

However, at the age of twenty-nine, he suffered a heart attack. This happens when you have a blockage in the left anterior descending (LAD) artery, which is the largest artery in the heart.

The LAD provides about half of the heart’s blood supply.

These were the first of Mr Wilson’s four heart attacks. For years, doctors dismissed it and recommended a course of statins, which are aimed at lowering cholesterol.

Mr Wilson has had four heart attacks, seven coronary stents and a stroke as a result of his condition. “The year I first met the Mayo team, my wife was planning to become a widow,” he said. “We weren’t sure if I would make it to the new year.”
Two of Mr. Wilson’s young children have inherited genetic signs of high cholesterol. He said he is on a mission to make sure heart disease “ends up” with him

At age 35, one of his massive heart attacks led to his need for quadruple bypass surgery. The goal of this procedure, also known as coronary artery bypass surgery, is to create a new path for blood flow around the blocked artery.

This involves taking a healthy blood vessel from the chest or leg and attaching it below the blocked artery to improve blood flow to the heart muscle.

Despite the surgery, he had another heart attack a year later.

What level constitutes high cholesterol depends on whether you have additional risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes or obesity.

For those without other risk factors, an LDL level of at least 190 mg/dL is considered high. With one risk factor, it drops to 160 mg/dL. If you have two or more risk factors, 130 mg/dL is high.

In children, a low-density lipoprotein (LDL) level of 130 mg/dL is considered high.

Mr. Wilson was eventually directed to the Family Heart Foundation, a non-profit organization that works with patients with familial hypercholesterolemia.

“Some nights I’m afraid to go to sleep because I don’t know if I’ll wake up or not,” Wilson said. “Anxiety is terrible”
“I may have given them high cholesterol, but I didn’t give them heart disease,” Mr. Wilson said of his children. Heart disease has taken a lot from my family. I refuse to let her take my children

This makes the heart work harder, increasing the chance of it weakening, leading to heart attacks and heart disease. At the same time, the brain is deprived of oxygen, which increases the risk of stroke.

Fatty foods, smoking, drinking, and lack of exercise can raise LDL cholesterol, although some people with a family history can have a genetic predisposition to this.

What level constitutes high cholesterol depends on whether you have additional risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes or obesity.

For those without other risk factors, an LDL level of at least 190 mg/dL is considered high. With one risk factor, it drops to 160 mg/dL. If you have two or more risk factors, 130 mg/dL is high.

In children, a low-density lipoprotein (LDL) level of 130 mg/dL is considered high.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), familial hypercholesterolemia affects one in every 250 Americans.

Mr Wilson also has a mutation in the LPA gene, which regulates bad cholesterol.

Soon after, he began treatment at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

“I probably wouldn’t exist unless I found the Family Heart Foundation,” he said. “The year I first met the Mayo team, my wife was planning to become a widow.

“We weren’t sure if I would make it to the new year.”

In addition to the heart attacks, Wilson underwent seven coronary artery stents and a transient ischemic attack, also known as a mini-stroke, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is briefly cut off.

He also suffers from peripheral artery disease (PAD), which narrows the arteries and reduces blood flow to the arms and legs. This can lead to severe pain, as well as numbness and weakness.

The ultimate expert-backed guide to protecting your heart for the future and keeping it healthy

It is the muscle that we take for granted because it works non-stop from the moment we are born until our last moment on earth.

“Sometimes I can only walk 50 yards until my legs start burning, and I feel short of breath. I used to be very active. I used to play softball with my kid, but now it’s a little more difficult.

“I am a young man in an old man’s body.”

It was hard. I suffer from PTSD and anxiety. I suffer from chronic angina and chest pain. There are some nights when I’m afraid to sleep because I don’t know if I’ll wake up or not.

“Anxiety is terrible.”

Mr Wilson is now working with a team of cardiologists, neurologists and vascular surgeons to manage his condition.

This includes frequent trips to the cath lab, also known as a catheterization lab, where doctors work to open blocked arteries and improve blood flow.

“I call my cardiologist my hero,” he said. They gave me the right medications, as well as the right treatments.

“When I go to them, I feel confident that they are doing everything to help me.”

“I have to take about 14 pills a day, but I don’t mind taking them because they do the job.”

However, Mr Wilson’s four-year-old daughter inherited familial hypercholesterolemia, while his five-year-old son was diagnosed with the same genetic marker for lipoprotein(a).

Mr. Wilson is now focusing on advocacy work and instilling healthy habits in his children so that they do not develop heart problems later.

Ultimately, his goal is to break his family’s generational curse.

I may have given them high cholesterol, but I did not give them heart disease. “They’ll never have to know about a life of heart attacks and all the different things I had to face and go through,” he said.

Heart disease has taken a lot from my family. I refuse to let her take my children.

(tags for translation) Brandon

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