Treatment Filters LDL Cholesterol

Some patients genetically predisposed to high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad” cholesterol, don’t respond well to medication. Now Washington University physicians can help these patients with a technique called LDL aphereis.

The technique uses an FDA-approved system known as H.E.L.P. (heparin-induced extracorporeal lipoprotein precipitation), which filters LDL cholesterol out of the blood.

“The blood is separated into red cells and plasma, and the plasma is run through a device containing material that grabs on to bad cholesterol particles,” explains Washington University cholesterol specialist Anne Carol Goldberg, MD.

“It picks up the particles that contain a protein found on LDL and removes them from the blood. Then the plasma is put back together with the red blood cells, minus the LDL, and returned to the body.”

Goldberg says the therapy reduces LDL cholesterol levels by at least 50 percent. Sometimes as much as three-quarters of a patient’s LDL will be removed during treatment. Since LDL tends to build up again, patients must receive treatment twice a month.

The H.E.L.P. system is designed primarily for people with inherited genetic defects that cause their LDL cholesterol levels to be extremely high.

To be eligible for the H.E.L.P. therapy, a person must have an LDL cholesterol level of more than 300 after at least six months of drug treatment to lower cholesterol along with diet and lifestyle changes. People who already have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease are eligible if their LDL cholesterol levels remain above 200 after maximum tolerated therapy.

For more information on H.E.L.P. treatments, call 314-362-3500.

Heart Disease Prevention

Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. Stopping heart disease before it starts is the goal of Dr. Andy Kates, cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. Learn more about heart disease prevention in this Barnes-Jewish Health Connection podcast.


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