The tenacity of the coronary candidate: How people with familial hypercholesterolaemia construct raised cholesterol and coronary heart disease

Kate Weiner

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    This article considers how people with familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), an inherited high cholesterol condition, construct FH, high cholesterol and coronary heart disease (CHD). These data are used to explore some of the more prevalent claims about the expansion of genetic explanations for health and illness and its implications. The article draws on 31 interviews with people with FH undertaken at a large lipid clinic, a specialist outpatient clinic, in the north of England. I argue that interviewees tended to distinguish between their own 'hereditary' high cholesterol and other people's 'lifestyle induced' high cholesterol as a way to establish their own lack of culpability for their condition. At the same time, however, they strongly emphasized the need to take care of themselves, in particular by adhering to appropriate dietary and lifestyle regimes. Interviewees' accounts of CHD were not strongly framed in genetic terms, but tended to conform to established lay notions encapsulated by the idea of the 'coronary candidate'. In sum, having FH does not seem to transform these people's understandings of the causes of high cholesterol or CHD. Their experiences were largely accommodated within existing lay frameworks. The analysis contributes to a growing reappraisal of transformative narratives about genetic knowledge. Copyright © 2009 SAGE Publications.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)407-427
    Number of pages20
    JournalHealth
    Volume13
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009

    Keywords

    • Cholesterol
    • Geneticization
    • Heart disease
    • Lay constructions
    • Responsibility

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