URMC Cardiology

LDL Apheresis

 

A new therapy for lowering high cholesterol.

For most people with high cholesterol, lifestyle changes and medications are effective treatments. But when your cholesterol is still high after repeated attempts to lower it, LDL apheresis may help.

LDL apheresis is a method of lowering LDL cholesterol—otherwise known as “bad cholesterol”—by filtering the blood. Research has shown that LDL apheresis can lower LDL by as much as 80% in one session. This reduction in LDL by LDL apheresis has been shown to lower the risk for heart attacks.

 

How LDL apheresis works.

LDL apheresis works much like dialysis does for kidney patients. Your blood is channeled into a machine that separates it into blood cells and plasma. The plasma—which contains the LDL—is then passed through a filter that removes most of the LDL. The blood is then returned to your body.

The whole process takes about three hours. Since LDL builds up in the blood again over time, LDL apheresis is usually required 2-4 times per month.

 

Is LDL apheresis for you?

LDL apheresis is not for everyone. Medicare and other insurers have certain requirements before they will cover LDL apheresis:

For patients with coronary artery disease

  • You must try to lower your cholesterol through dietary therapy and the maximum-tolerated combination drug therapy for a period of six months.
  • After this trial, you need to have LDL levels of at least 200 mg/dl.

For patients without coronary artery disease

  • You must try to lower your cholesterol through dietary therapy and the maximum-tolerated combination drug therapy for a period of six months.
  • After this trial, you need to have LDL levels of at least 300 mg/dl.

 

What to do next.

If you have high cholesterol that is resistant to other therapies, talk to your doctor or cardiologist about LDL apheresis.

For more information about LDL apheresis from UR Medicine, or to make an appointment, call 585-341-7700.