Case Study: Stephanie’s story
My name is Stephanie White and several years ago it was discovered that I had a high cholesterol level and I was diagnosed with Familial Hypercholesterolemia.
Even with the maximum dose of cholesterol lowering drugs my levels never reached a normal level, and at the age of 42, I was referred to Harefield Hospital with angina and coronary artery disease which made it difficult for me to walk more than a short distance without getting chest pains and breathlessness. This was treated with angioplasties, a heart by-pass and a life-long treatment called LDL apheresis.
LDL apheresis is where the cholesterol is removed from my blood by passing it through a machine before returning the treated blood back to my body. This treatment can be done by placing two needles into your veins, one to remove the blood and the other to return the treated blood but unfortunately my veins are not suitable and therefore I have a permanent central line inserted in my chest. After treatment you can feel very tired and sometimes this can carry on to the next day but I can now walk much further and do a lot more without getting the chest pain. I previously had a desk job but now I work at the hospital as a health care assistant, a job which involves being on my feet and walking quite a lot of the day.
I have been receiving treatment for over seven years and my cholesterol levels have greatly improved although it does begin to increase again after treatment but never to the high level that it used to be. Therefore this is why it is necessary to have treatment every two weeks.
I feel very lucky that I was referred to Dr. Barbir, Consultant Cardiologist at Harefield Hospital who was able to offer me this treatment at the LDL apheresis unit, which is run by Cardiac Nurse Consultant Alison Pottle as there are only eight centres in the UK that carry out this specialist treatment and very little is known about it even within the medical profession.