LDL Apheresis | Loyola Medicine

LDL Apheresis

Non-surgical Therapy to Assist in Lowering High Cholesterol

Loyola Medicine is one of only a few centers in the Midwest, and the only academic medical center in Chicago, to offer LDL apheresis to patients who suffer from familial hypercholesterolemia, a rare genetic disorder characterized by high levels of LDL, low-density lipoprotein or chronic high cholesterol. This treatment may also be effective for patients whose severely high cholesterol has been difficult to control with diet, exercise and medication. 

LDL apheresis is a non-surgical therapy that helps lower cholesterol by cleansing your blood of LDL (bad) cholesterol. An apheresis unit designed for blood cleaning performs plasma separation, removes about 70 to 80 percent of the LDL in your blood and then returns your cleaned blood to your body. Your good HDL cholesterol is not removed.

LDL apheresis can lessen the impact of coronary artery disease, as well as have a positive impact if you have vascular disease.

Why Choose Loyola for LDL Apheresis?

Loyola’s cardiology and heart surgery program is nationally recognized for our diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular conditions. We work with you to help you understand your condition and develop a treatment plan that is right for you.

What to Expect with LDL Apheresis

An LDL apheresis unit functions similarly to that of dialysis. Once every two weeks, you will spend two to four hours connected to an apheresis unit while your blood is cleansed of LDL cholesterol and returned to your body. LDL apheresis is done under the guidance of medical specialists from Loyola’s transfusion service, and you will have periodic clinical follow-ups with a lipidologist (cholesterol specialist).

Loyola’s multidisciplinary LDL apheresis program is intended for patients who have been unable to control cholesterol with lifestyle changes and cholesterol-lowering medications. They include patients with coronary heart disease who have LDL cholesterol greater than 200 mg/dL, and patients without coronary artery disease who have LDL levels greater than 300 mg/dL.

What are the Risks of LDL Apheresis?

LDL apheresis is a safe procedure that results in very few treatment side effects. The most common side effect is low blood pressure. Other, less common side effects may include:

  • Discomfort at the injection site
  • Dizziness
  • Flushing of your skin
  • Nausea