Harrisburg’s Paul Baughman rolls up both of his sleeves and sits down in a chair at Lancaster General Health for a ritual he does every two weeks.
The 43-year-old undergoes a dialysis-like treatment, “I’m having Lipid Apheresis performed,” said Baughman.
“We take the blood out and basically separate it into the plasma which is the liquid and the cells. Then the plasma, we run it through a column and this column binds all the bad cholesterol particles” said Rolf Andersen, Director of Preventative Cardiology and Lipid Apheresis Clinic at Lancaster General Health.
“Without treatment, my cholesterol levels are 450, 460,” said Baughman.
A normal number is 200.
Even though Baughman exercises, eats healthy and takes cholesterol lowering stations, it’s not enough. His DNA predicted his destiny.
“We call it FH which stands for Familial Hypercholesterolemia, so these patients with this genetic condition do respond to drugs,” said Anderson.
“The men in my family tend to die young. My grandfather died when he was 32. My uncle passed away when he was 38, both from heart issues,” said Baughman.
Baughman has had catheterization. “They went in and did it again and unfortunately this time it was 100% blocked and 95% blocked and 98% blocked and 97% blocked. They basically said there was nothing they could do about it,” said Baughman.
That is when he chose this option, drawing on his knowledge. “I’m a physician” said Baughman.
In this case, doctor knows best.
“I anticipate that I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life,” said Baughman.
“There’s no finite amount of time you can get this done. I mean honestly the world of cholesterol treatment is changing everyday. And there’s new drugs that are out and there’s new drugs on the way, so lipid aphaeresis might now be what he’ll be getting ten years from now,” said Anderson.
But for now, this treatment is working. “When I walk out of here, there’s a 70% decrease in the LDL” said Baughman.
If you are interested in learning more about Lipid Apheresis click, here.