OSU Offers Specialized Treatment For Severe Cholesterol

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The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center now offers a treatment for severely high cholesterol.

LDL Apheresis is the removal of LDL, the bad cholesterol, from the bloodstream. 

This treatment allows people like 24-year-old Christian Jacobs to better combat high cholesterol.  Jacobs will tell you that he is not the typical picture of heart disease and high cholesterol.

Chuckling, he says that most people express surprise when they learn his story.

“You automatically get ‘No way—you’re so skinny!  How do you have heart disease? How do you have high cholesterol?’” Jacobs said.

Jacobs has severely high cholesterol because of a genetic disorder called familial hypercholesterolemia, called “FH” for short. 

His grandmother noticed little yellow spots on his hand when he was 2 years old and dermatologists originally thought he had jaundice.  

Experts are saying this once rare disease might be more common than first thought. They say 1 in 250 to 1 in 500 people have the disorder and most are treated with medication.

Doctors consider the disorder to be present if patients have a LDL cholesterol number higher than 190. Most can be managed with medication but in extreme cases, like Jacobs’, a more aggressive treatment is required.  

Jacobs has traveled to both Cincinnati and Cleveland for the three to four hour treatment sessions. 

OSU Wexner Medical Center is now offering this treatment which allows Jacobs to be close to home and maintain his focus on nursing school.

“It is mentally relieving knowing that I can walk around for a couple days knowing that my cholesterol and my body and my heart don’t have to work as hard,” Jacobs said.

During this procedure, patients have plasma drawn from their body through an IV in their arm, run through a machine that removes the LDL, then the plasma and blood is returned back into the body of the patient. 

“The LDL levels fall from 70 to 80 percent and then it returns to baseline levels in two weeks, so patients require treatment every two weeks,” OSU Wexner Medical Center cardiologist Dr. Kavita Sharma said.