Recommendations for the use of LDL apheresis

Atherosclerosis. 2008 Jun;198(2):247-55. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2008.02.009. Epub 2008 Feb 19.


Plasma exchange has been shown to increase life-expectancy in homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) but increasingly is being replaced by LDL apheresis. Several methods are now available for undertaking this procedure, which lowers LDL cholesterol and Lp(a) efficiently and safely when performed weekly or bi-weekly and causes only slight decreases in HDL cholesterol. Hitherto the main clinical indication has been homozygous FH, including children and pregnant women, but there are limited data showing that LDL apheresis has effects on the progression of cardiovascular disease in FH heterozygotes which are similar to those of maximal lipid-lowering drug therapy. Hence it has the potential to be beneficial in hypercholesterolaemic patients with overt coronary disease who are refractory to or intolerant of drugs. It is therefore recommended that LDL apheresis should be the treatment of choice for: (1) all FH homozygotes from the age of seven onwards unless their serum cholesterol can be reduced by >50% and/or decreased to <or=9mmol/l by drug therapy; (2) individual patients with either heterozygous FH or a bad family history of premature cardiac death whose coronary disease progresses and where LDL cholesterol remains >5.0mmol/l or is decreased by <40% with maximal drug therapy. Apheresis may also occasionally be indicated on a case-by-case basis for patients with lower levels of LDL. (3) LDL apheresis should also be considered for patients with aggressive progressing coronary disease and Lp(a)>60mg/l whose LDL cholesterol remains >3.2mmol/l despite maximal drug therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Component Removal / methods*
  • Blood Component Removal / standards*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / therapy*
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy


  • Lipoproteins, LDL