Blood Cleansing Treatment helps Patients Lower LDL Cholesterol
Genetics aren’t always fair. Even when they eat right, exercise conscientiously and take medication, some people’s bodies simply manufacture too much cholesterol, placing them at high risk for heart disease.
However, people who have these extremely high cholesterol levels may be able to benefit from a life-saving treatment known as apheresis, which actually removes cholesterol directly from the blood. Oklahoma Heart Hospital Physicians, at Oklahoma Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City, is the only medical provider in the state offering the Liposorber LDL Apheresis System, a cutting-edge treatment that removes LDL (“bad”) cholesterol from the blood. Presently, the treatment is a life-long therapy that must be repeated about every two weeks and that is likely to remain necessary until additional types of cholesterol-lowering medicines become available.
The treatment is vital for the small number of patients who do not benefit enough from aggressive cholesterol-lowering drugs and lifestyle changes, explained Dr. Carl Rubenstein, OHHP clinical lipidologist and cardiologist. “These patients usually have too-high cholesterol levels (a condition known as hypercholesterolemia) due to their inherited family genetics and metabolism. With this new system, we can reduce the plaque build-up and inflammation in the arteries by rapidly lowering LDL levels,” Dr. Rubenstein said. “In many instances, we can then bring about plaque regression and a significant lowering of the patient’s risk for heart disease and stroke.”
The LDL-apheresis process, performed by the Liposorber System, uses a state-of-the-art computer to control and monitor the removal of LDL cholesterol from the blood. To begin the three-hour procedure, patients are given the drug heparin to protect against blood clotting. Then, their blood is withdrawn from a vein in the arm and sent through a tube to the Liposorber System
|Dr. Carl Rubenstein|
machine, where the plasma is separated from the red blood cells. The plasma flows through specialized adsorption columns within the system that use chemically coated cellulose beads to attract the LDL particles, removing them from the blood.
After the LDL is eliminated (and discarded as waste), the plasma is recombined with the red blood cells and pumped back into the patient’s body. The automated system has multiple safety features, and side effects are very rare. Further, the technicians operating the system remain with the patient during the treatment.
A single treatment can lower a patient’s LDL cholesterol by 73 to 83 percent, depending on how much plasma is processed through the Liposorber System during treatment. The number of LDL particles builds up again after treatment, so the process must be repeated at about two-week intervals in order to keep the LDL-cholesterol levels under control.
Candidates for the LDL-apheresis procedure must have very high LDL levels that have not responded adequately to diet and aggressive drug therapy. All patients are evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not they qualify.
For more information about LDL apheresis or the Liposorber System, contact Dr. Rubenstein at the OHHP offices, 405-608-3800.