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Screening programme returns in bid to combat preventable death

Screening programme returns in bid to combat preventable death

Thursday 15 July 2021

Screening programme returns in bid to combat preventable death


The free Familial Hypercholesterolaemia genomic screening programme launched by Queens Road Medical Practice in 2019 returned last week with more than 50 islanders being screened for a genetic cholesterol disease.

FH is a genetic condition that results in high levels of cholesterol which can lead to cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of preventable death in the developed world.

If identified, the condition can be treated with medication which reduces the likelihood of developing cardiovascular complications.

The programme is the first genomic screening programme to be offered in the Bailiwick and the first in General Practice either here or the UK. It aims to identify and treat FH gene carriers through free genetic screening clinics using the latest screening technology.

Queens Road Medical Practice is working in partnership with the Wessex Familial Hypercholesterolaemia Service to deliver the three-year programme. Dr Mat Dorrian, who has an MSc in genomic medicine and received an MBE for his services to primary healthcare, is leading the clinics held at the Longfrie surgery.

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Pictured: Express found out more about the genetic condition and the impact the new initiative has had so far in diagnosing people before they develop heart disease.

“It is fantastic to be able to run the screening programme again after we had to postpone the clinics due to the pandemic,” said Dr Dorrian. 

“We set out with the aim of making this the most effective FH screening programme possible. Key in enabling us to achieve this is the unique way we are offering cascade screening to relatives in General Practice. Guernsey’s close-knit community provides the ideal scenario for ensuring good uptake of this key part of the programme.

“More than 100 islanders have been referred as candidates for the programme across three screening clinics to date, 56 of which have had results returned.

“Through this and cascade screening we have confirmed the condition in over 30 patients so far. We are starting to identify FH in younger patients via cascade screening who would otherwise have been unaware of this treatable condition. This is the ultimate goal of the programme."

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Pictured: Dr Dorrian said he was incredibly thankful to the Wessex Familial Hypercholesterolaemia Service for their input and the Committee for Health and Social Care for their support, saying the FH programme is "a great example of this in action and of health services working together for the benefit of our community.”

The clinics were supported by two nurses from the Wessex Familial Hypercholesterolaemia Service who travelled to the island, in line with current Public Health guidelines, to assist Dr Dorrian. 

The Familial Hypercholesterolaemia genomic screening programme is supported by Butterfield, the Committee for Health and Social Care and the Health Innovation Charitable Trust.

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