Dialysis for high cholesterol?
Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 15, 2013 at 3:13 p.m.
Q: I've heard I can have my high cholesterol filtered out of my blood, just like kidney dialysis. Is that true?
— Jamie C., Chicago
A: Yes and no. There's a treatment called LDL apheresis that's designed for people who can't lower their abnormally high levels of "lousy" LDL cholesterol with lifestyle changes and medications. LDL apheresis filters out the lousy cholesterol from your blood, and leaves good HDL cholesterol behind.
Now, apheresis is only for the unlucky few who have medically resistant, chronically elevated LDL. The condition usually is genetic and is very dangerous. If you have a family history of folks dying suddenly from heart attacks, get checked. Dr. Mike's Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Oz's New York Presbyterian Healthcare System both offer this treatment. It's usually scheduled every few weeks and takes two to four hours.
But if you're not someone who has treatment-resistant LDL and you're looking for a fast fix for your cholesterol woes, LDL apheresis is not for you.
Instead, be glad you can lower LDL with exercise and eating right. Start by walking 10,000 steps a day. (Check out the plan at RealAge.com.) After that, add some resistance exercises and cardio for 20 minutes, three times a week. You'll feel better right from the start.
Next, maintain a healthy weight and keep your liver happy by avoiding the five food felons (saturated and trans fats, added sugars and sugar syrups, and any grain that's not 100 percent whole). And keep alcohol to fewer than two glasses of wine a day. (Your liver makes about 80 percent of your cholesterol; diet adds the rest.) Keep your liver running smoothly by eating lots of fruits, nuts and vegetables.
If you have stubborn LDL cholesterol, your doctor might prescribe a statin, and possibly DHA omega-3 (900 mg a day) and purified omega-7 (420 mg a day). Statins and these supplements can also reduce bodywide inflammation, which may in turn reduce high blood pressure and even arthritis pain.
Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at email@example.com.