Filtering out high cholesterol

December 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
34 million Americans have a cholesterol level that puts them at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

For some people, no matter how well they eat, or how much they exercise, they can't bring their levels down. We'll show you what's doing what other treatments can't do.

Sandra Miller likes to take old things, clean them up and make them new again.

"I like to do whatever i can to update them," Sandra told Action News.

Right now doctors are pretty much doing the same thing with her blood.

"She's someone who this procedure is very important for because it's going to prevent her heart disease from getting worse and perhaps reverse some of the plaque buildup that's already in her heart," Amber Sanchez, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor and Associate Medical Director at UC San Diego, told Action News.

While she exercises and eats right she's genetically prone to high LDL levels, the bad cholesterol in our bodies. The ideal level for people at high risk of heart disease is below 70; she's in the 300's. Now she's one of the first patients at UC San Diego to undergo LDL apheresis. This machine runs Sandra's blood through a filter that separates the plasma.

"The plasma portion is then run through a special filter that just absorbs bad cholesterol, returns all the good cholesterol back to the patient," Dr. Sanchez said.

Sandra's LDL levels drop from 350 to 67 during the three hour procedure! She will need to do this every two weeks for life!

"At the end of every two weeks, her LDL is back up in the 200's," Dr. Sanchez said.

For Sandra, to make her bad cholesterol good it's worth it.

Doctors say anything that brings the LDL levels down, even for a short time, will help prevent heart disease. The procedure is FDA approved, but so far just 60 centers across the country perform it to lower LDL levels.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Amber Sanchez, MD
The UCSD Apheresis Unit number: (619)543-5977
apheresis@ucsd.edu


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