Machine similar to dialysis removes cholesterol from blood

March 1, 2013

Some patients are genetically prone to such dangerously high levels of cholesterol that no amount of diet, exercise and medications can reduce their cholesterol to safe levels.

So Loyola University Medical Center is offering a treatment called LDL apheresis, which is similar to . Once every two weeks, a patient spends two to four hours connected to an apheresis unit that removes 70-to-80 percent of the patient's LDL (bad) cholesterol, then returns the blood to the body. The good is not removed.

Loyola is among a handful of centers in the Midwest – and the only academic medical center in Chicago—to offer LDL apheresis.

The Loyola LDL Apheresis Program is intended for patients who have been unable to control cholesterol with and medications. They include patients with who have LDL cholesterol greater than 200 mg/dL, and patients without who have LDL levels greater than 300 mg/dL.

About 1 in 500 people have that cause three to five times as high as normal levels. The condition, called familial hypercholesterolemia, causes heart disease at a young age.

Familial hypercholesterolemia runs in Fran Tobias' family. Her father died of a heart attack in his early 40s, her mother had a heart attack at age 45, and two brothers died of heart disease. Tobias had her first heart attack at age 37, a second heart attack at age 45, a quintuple bypass surgery and eight stents.

Tobias, 56, who lives in Glen Ellyn, is successfully controlling her LDL by coming for apheresis treatments at Loyola every two weeks.

"This is literally a lifesaver for me," Tobias said. "If I were to stop, I probably would have another heart attack within 18 months to two years."

The Loyola LDL Apheresis Program is multidisciplinary. LDL apheresis is done under the guidance of medical specialists from Loyola's transfusion service, and patients have periodic clinical follow-ups with a lipidologist (cholesterol specialist). The program is directed by Binh An P. Phan, MD, and Phillip J. DeChristopher, MD, PhD. Phan is director of Loyola's Preventive Cardiology Program and DeChristopher is director of Transfusion Medicine and the Apheresis Center.

"The aim of the Loyola LDL Apheresis Program is to provide a multidisciplinary specialized service for the comprehensive evaluation and treatment of patients who require LDL apheresis," Phan said.

Explore further: Gene variant reduces cholesterol by two mechanisms

Related Stories

Gene variant reduces cholesterol by two mechanisms

July 2, 2012
High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol increases the risk for coronary heart disease.

Greater drop in LDL seen with atorvastatin plus PCSK9 antibody

November 2, 2012
(HealthDay)—Addition of the fully human serum proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin 9 monoclonal antibody, SAR236553, to atorvastatin is associated with greater reductions in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels ...

Is there really such a thing as a broken heart?

February 8, 2012
On Valentine's Day, people who have been unlucky in love are sometimes said to suffering from a "broken heart."

Drug OK'd for deadly genetic condition tied to cholesterol

January 30, 2013
(HealthDay)—Kynamro (mipomersen sodium) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat a rare inherited condition in which the body can't remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from the blood.

Intensive cholesterol therapy with multiple drugs effective over long term

June 25, 2012
For the first time, a study has found that intensive cholesterol therapy involving a combination of drugs for 20 years may be more effective over the long run than taking a single statin medication.

Recommended for you

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

Best of Last Year – The top Medical Xpress articles of 2016

December 23, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—It was a big year for research involving overall health issues, starting with a team led by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health who unearthed more evidence that ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Shootist
1 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2013
No unintended consequences to be had from this device, no.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.