Bad blood: Filtering out high cholesterol

A medical breakthrough is filtering out a potential killer.

(CNN Image)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – 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," says Miller.

"It's gonna prevent her heart disease from getting worse and perhaps reverse some of the plaque buildup that's already in her heart,"  says Dr. Amber Sanchez the Assistant Clinical Professor.

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," says Sanchez.

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.

"After two weeks her cholesterol is back up in the 200's," says Sanchez.

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

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