Loss of statin treatment years during pregnancy and breastfeeding periods in women with familial hypercholesterolemia

Atherosclerosis. 2021 Oct;335:8-15. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2021.09.003. Epub 2021 Sep 3.


Background and aims: Women with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) are recommended to initiate statin treatment at the same age as men (from 8 to 10 years of age). However, statins are contraindicated when pregnancy is planned, during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The aim of the study was to determine the duration of pregnancy-related off-statin periods and breastfeeding in FH women.

Methods: A cross-sectional study using an anonymous online self-administered questionnaire was conducted. Women with FH were recruited through Lipid Clinics in Norway and Netherlands and national FH patient organizations.

Results: 102 women with FH (n = 70 Norwegian and n = 32 Dutch) were included in the analysis. Total length of pregnancy-related off-statin periods was estimated for 80 women where data were available, and was median (min-max) 2.3 (0-14.2) years. Lost statin treatment time was estimated for 67 women where data were available, and was median (min-max) 18 (0-100)% at mean (SD) age of 31 (4.3) years at last pregnancy. More women breastfed in Norway (83%) and for longer time [8.5 [1-42] months] compared to the Netherlands [63%, p = 0.03; 3.6 (0-14) months, p < 0.001]. Eighty-six percent of the women reported need for more information on pregnancy and breastfeeding in relation to FH.

Conclusions: Young FH women lose years of treatment when discontinuing statins in relation to pregnancy and breastfeeding periods and should be closely followed up to minimize the duration of these off-statin periods. Whether these periods of interrupted treatment increase the cardiovascular risk in FH women needs to be further elucidated.

Keywords: Breastfeeding; Familial hypercholesterolemia; Pregnancy; Statin; Women's health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors* / adverse effects
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type II* / diagnosis
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type II* / drug therapy
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type II* / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors