Traditional treatment options for high cholesterol include exercise, a low fat diet, and medications including the statin family (Lipitor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lescol, lovastatin, Welchol, Zetia, Advicor), or a combination of drugs including niacin. However, for some people this is not enough, especially for those with heart disease at an early age, or a family history of heart disease.
Now there is a life changing treatment option that significantly lowers LDL cholesterol when diet and medications fail. In 1996, the FDA approved an innovative therapy called LDL apheresis for these patients. LDL apheresis removes unwanted LDL cholesterol from the blood. A machine is used to pump a patient's blood through a filter that selectively removes LDL particles.
Sun Health has specialized in blood therapies for over 10 years and is one of 30 clinics in the United States to offer LDL apheresis. Others include Mayo Clinic and The Cleveland Clinic.
What is LDL Apheresis?
LDL is the "bad" cholesterol that can cause serious heart problems.
Apheresis is a technique that separates the blood into components so that any unwanted substances may be removed from the blood.
LDL apheresis removes unwanted LDL cholesterol from the blood. A machine is used to pump a patient's blood through a filter that selectively removes LDL, VLDL, and Lp(a) particles. HDL, the "good" cholesterol and all other components of the blood are returned to the patient.
Each treatment lasts about 2-3 hours and lowers LDL cholesterol by 73-83%. To maintain lowered levels of LDL, treatment is needed every 1-3 weeks.
Who Qualifies For LDL Apheresis?
LDL apheresis is for individuals that have tried diet and maximum drug therapy. FDA criteria include:
LDL Cholesterol over 200 with heart disease LDL Cholesterol over 300 without heart disease
How effective is LDL Apheresis?
Worldwide, more than 2,500 patients have been treated with over 250,000 procedures in 16 years. The safety and effectiveness of LDL apheresis is well known. There is a low incidence of adverse events- most commonly low blood pressure.
What is the Cost of LDL Apheresis?
Most insurance carriers cover the cost of LDL apheresis. Sun Health will work with you and your insurance carrier to determine your coverage for this procedure.
How Can I Find Out if I Need LDL Apheresis?
LDL apheresis is for patients with otherwise untreatable high cholesterol. Patients referred to Sun Health for LDL apheresis will first receive specialized cholesterol labs, called Berkeley Heart Labs, an EBT heart scan, and a stress test.
In collaboration with your cardiologist or primary care physician, Dr. Chawla, Medical Director of Sun Health, will take an extensive history and review your medications to ensure all options of have been tried to lower your cholesterol. Once this has been established, you will meet again with Dr. Chawla to decide if LDL apheresis is a treatment choice for you.