Got high cholesterol? One day your doctor may be able to wash it right out of your blood. Instead of taking a pill to lower that bad cholesterol, there really is a way to "clean" your blood, and return it with a little less of the artery clogging goop inside.
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"
Right now, doctors are pretty much doing the same thing with her blood, "it's gonna prevent her heart disease from getting worse and perhaps reverse some of the plaque buildup that's already in her heart."
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 Sandra is one of the first patients at UC San Diego to undergo LDL apheresis (ay-fur-ee-sis).
Dr. Sanchez explains the 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."
Sandra's LDL levels dropped from 350 to 67 during the three hour procedure- but, Sanchez says, he will need to do this every two weeks-for life, "after two weeks her cholesterol is back up in the 200's."
Dr. Miller says, while it is recommended patients continue taking any cholesterol-lowering medications while going through apheresis,
In cases like Sandra's, those drugs don't work and the bi-weekly treatment can actually replace them. The procedure is FDA approved but, so far, just 60 centers across the country offer it.