Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an autosomal dominant disease. Homozygous FH (HFH) manifests with severe hypercholesterolemia since birth (cholesterol levels >5-6 the upper normal limit), which, if untreated, leads to early onset accelerated atherosclerosis and premature coronary death, usually before the 2nd or 3rd decades of life. Various invasive procedures (iliocecal bypass, porto-caval shunt, liver transplant, and gene therapy) have been introduced for lowering low density lipoprotein (LDL) aiming at reducing atherosclerosis and improving survival of HFH patients. Of all the various methods, LDL apheresis has become the most attractive. Although its impressive effect on LDL-C reduction is well established, its long-term (of more than 10 year) effect on the atherosclerotic process and specifically cardiac end-points in HFH is hardly documented. We herewith report on the longest term lipophoresis so far reported in two HFH patients, each treated with plasma-exchange and LDL-apheresis for more than 20 years. The observations provide an opportunity to focus on various aspects regarding not only the procedure itself but also its effect on various clinical endpoints. By this description together with reviewing the literature, we discuss several issues, some of them are generalized while others are individualized, dealing with the approach of long term LDL apheresis in HFH.
- Homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia
- LDL apheresis
- Long term therapy