LDL Apheresis

LDL apheresis removes low-density lipoproteins (LDL) that transport cholesterol in the plasma portion of the blood.  This treatment is mainly used for familial hypercholesterolemia, but can be used in other rare diseases. Familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited genetic condition that causes accumulation of cholesterol in the blood, which can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease.  This treatment is recommended for patients who do not respond to dietary and/or medication control of LDL cholesterol.

During the therapy, small amounts of blood are gradually removed through an inserted needle, central line catheter, or AV fistula and circulated through a machine and Liposorber filter.  The machine separates the whole blood and plasma.  The Liposorber filter removes the LDL cholesterol from the plasma.  The blood and plasma is then returned to the patient by the IV access.  One procedure has lowers LDL cholesterol by 65-70%. Repeated procedures, generally every one to two weeks, are needed to maintain low cholesterol levels.

How to Prepare for LDL Apheresis

Two days prior to procedure, we recommend drinking plenty of non-carbonated and non-alcoholic beverages.  We also recommend eating prior to scheduled procedure.  If you are taking an ACE Inhibitor, please notify our staff.

What to Expect

The procedure typically lasts 4 to 6 hours, but can last shorter or longer depending on a variety of factors.  If intravenous catheters are placed, the arms will be propped on pillows and you will be asked to intermittently pump a fist to help promote blood flow. One may experience bruising or discomfort at the insertion sites. If a larger catheter or port is used, one will have free use of their arms during the procedure. An apheresis staff member specialized with the procedure will be with you throughout the treatment and should be notified of any side effects to help alleviate the symptoms.