High Cholesterol

Know More About LDL Apheresis

In simple words, LDL apheresis can be described as a cholesterol lowering technique. It is a highly effective treatment and is used when the conventional treatments fail to offer results.

The conventional treatment for high cholesterol includes dietary changes and exercise along with prescription medications. However, there are some individuals who do not respond to the conventional treatment. In some cases, even the highest doses of prescription medication do not work. In such cases, LDL apheresis or cholesterol apheresis is used.

Who needs it?
While LDL apheresis has proved to be quite successful in lowering cholesterol levels, it may not be advised for everyone. In fact, it is estimated that only 1 in 300,000 individuals needs this procedure. LDL apheresis may be required under the given circumstances:

* No change in cholesterol levels despite lifestyle modifications.
* The body does not respond to even the highest doses of cholesterol lowering medications.
* LDL levels of 200 mg/dL along with the presence of coronary heart diseases.
* LDL levels of 300 mg/dL along without the presence of coronary heart diseases.

The procedure
This process works in a similar manner as kidney dialysis. Here in, a catheter is placed in the patient's arm. All the blood extracted from the body is drained into this catheter. The blood is pumped into a machine, where the blood and plasma are separated from each other. On separation, the blood is pumped inside the body whereas the plasma still remains in the machine for further filtration.

The plasma is then passed on to a filtering device. Here in, LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein), VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotien) and Lp(a) (Lipoprotien A) is separated from the plasma. This filtered plasma is then pumped back into the body.

A single treatment session lasts for about 2 to 3.5 hours.

The pros and cons
If you are considering this procedure to lower your cholesterol levels, then it is important that you acquaint yourself with its pros and cons in the first place.

Talking about the positives first, LDL apheresis is highly effective. In fact, research suggests that it can lower cholesterol levels by as much as 80%. So, people with dangerously high cholesterol levels can benefit a great deal from this treatment.

Secondly, this treatment does not have any major side effects. It is quiet safe. The only noted side effect of this procedure is low blood pressure. However, that has also been witnessed in only a small percentage of patients going under the procedure.

On the downside, this treatment can prove to be very expensive. A single session can cost you as much as $2500. However, since the procedure is covered by most insurance carriers, the cost should not be a problem.

Further on, LDL apheresis does not offer a permanent solution to the problem. The body continues to produce cholesterol, which means your LDL levels will rise again and you will need the treatment again.