New Blood Filter Technology at Hoxworth Sweeps Bad Cholesterol Clean
Published April 2006
It began with a routine physical that included a blood test for cholesterol levels.
The results came back showing ominous levels of cholesterol, in the form of high-density lipoprotein and the dangerous low-density lipoprotein (LDL)— indicating high risk for heart attack or stroke.
But despite the patient’s best efforts, dutifully sticking to his physician’s prescription of cholesterol-lowering medication, exercise and a low-fat diet, those cholesterol numbers remained dangerously high. Now what?
One answer can be found at UC’s Hoxworth Blood Center in the form of a device that actually filters out the “bad” LDL.
Known as the Kaneka Liposorber, the device collects the patient’s blood from a vein in one arm, filters LDL from the plasma, and returns the “cleaned” blood via the patient’s other arm. The process, which takes two to three hours, is used by high-LDL patients once every two weeks.
This LDL “apheresis” process, the separation of blood components, can lower LDL levels from 73 to 83 percent with one treatment, says Sue Pinkard, RN, director of the therapeutic apheresis program at Hoxworth. However, she points out, LDL levels begin to increase in about two weeks, requiring patients to continue the treatment. They must also continue their cholesterol-lowering medication and diet.
Approved by the FDA in 1996, the Liposorber was designed specifically for patients who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease and for whom diet and maximum drug therapy have not been effective or well tolerated.
Many such patients suffer from a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia, in which elevated LDL levels from birth make them prone to coronary heart disease and heart attack at an early age.
“No matter what some people eat, the body will still make cholesterol,” Pinkard says, “and because of ‘mean’ genes, some people make too much.”
For more information on this system, call (513) 558-1333.