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Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Kitasato Institute Hospital

Conditions Treated
Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Hypercholesterolemia (Particularly, Familial Hypercholesterolemia), Arteriosclerosis Obliterans.

Treatment Methods (Apheresis Therapy for Anti-Myocardial Autoantibody and LDL Cholesterol)

Although dilated cardiomyopathy is a heart disease whose cause is still unknown, a fundamental therapy has been the subject of research. Other than drug therapies to improve symptoms, serious cases can be treated with a heart transplant. However the drug therapies are accompanied by the fear of side effects, while there is a lack of donors for heart transplants.

Therefore, a limited number of patients can undergo these treatments. This is why a new therapeutic method has been developed using apheresis, the clinical trial of which is now ongoing. Many dilated cardiomyopathy patients have anti-myocardial autoantibodies. Apheresis removes these from the blood, improving symptoms and/or cardiac functions. (Apheresis is a safe therapeutic method with fewer side effects. In this method, the blood is led out of the body from a vein and guided into a special device to remove unnecessary substances from the blood. The blood is then sent back to the body.) This therapeutic method has been used in Japan and Germany as an advanced method. In Japan, disposable products are used with the device, and it is not necessary to supplement blood components after blood purification. Therefore, this procedure is safer and less invasive on the body. In Japan today, the clinical study is ongoing, and therefore only a limited number of facilities provide apheresis. Furthermore, the inspection method to confirm the quantity of autoantibodies, which is critical to the effect of the therapy, is patented by our hospital.

This apheresis therapy is also used to remove LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) from the blood.

Familial hypercholesterolemia patients have an extremely high level of LDL-C in the blood, which increases the risk of myocardial infarction and so forth. More often than not, however, drug therapies cannot achieve any sufficient effects. Apheresis therapy is also effective in such cases. In cases of arteriosclerosis obliterans, it is well known that LDL-C apheresis makes recovery of blood circulation in the arteries in the lower limbs possible, which will improve symptoms even when LDL-C blood levels are low. Although LDL-C apheresis has been used in many countries, Japanese devices are especially safe and less expensive, because it is not necessary to replenish albumin preparations.

Features of Our Hospital

Treatment Results

The origin of our hospital is Tsukushigaoka Sanatorium, Japan’s first tuberculosis clinic, which was established in 1893 by Shibasaburo Kitasato, a bacteriologist well known to the world in the fields of bacteriology and immunology. Since that time, we, with emphasis on preventive medicine, have been advancing studies in relation to immunity such as the development of vaccines in particular. These principles have been passed on to us today, leading to the development of apheresis therapy by the department of cardiovascular medicine.

The most conspicuous feature of our hospital is the fact that integrated medical care is provided, ranging from preventive medicine to therapy, with the basic attitude of “the doctor who finds a disease is responsible for its therapy”. In addition to this, as a hospital twinned with a research institute, our hospital is also one of the bases for global clinical research in Japan. We have been greatly contributing to the advancement of clinical research in and outside Japan by proactively conducting international joint clinical trials, for example. Moreover, we are one of the leading training facilities of clinical pharmacists in Japan, which enables us to establish a high quality medical care team. This too, is a large advantage from the clinical point of view.

A Message to International Patients from Our Department

Dr. Akira Koike
Dr. Akiyasu Baba
Director of the Preventive Medicine Center/Vice- Director of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine

Japan has a lot of experience with apheresis therapy, which has a high level of safety partly because Japan has made advances in developing the equipment. With apheresis therapy for dilated cardiomyopathy, there has been a case in which a patient who supposedly required a heart transplant was able to return to daily life. Furthermore, LDL-C apheresis is also effective in preventing arteriosclerotic diseases. Our hospital is able to provide an expert medical care team in a homey environment, which results in high satisfaction of the patients. We are in the Shirokane area, Minato-ku, Tokyo, where a lot of embassies have been established. We have been accepting a large number of non-Japanese patients so you can rest assured that receiving medical attention from us is anxiety free.

Overview of the Treatment Schedule (Model Case: Apheresis Therapy for Dilated Cardiomyopathy)

In principle, this therapy is for those patients who have undergone another therapeutic method without encouraging results.


External View of Our Hospital Equipment Used for Apheresis Blood Flow Increment in the Lower Limbs with LDL-C Apheresis
Established 1983
Clinical Departments
Clinics: General Medicine, Gastrointestinal Medicine, Cardiovascular Internal Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Nephrology, Metabolic Medicine, Psychiatry, Rheumatology, Pediatrics, Surgery, Orthopedics, Sports Clinic, Rehabilitation, Gynecology, Urology, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, Otorhinolaryngology, Plastic Surgery/Cosmetic Surgery, Allergy, Anesthesiology, Radiology, Diagnostic Pathology Centers: Liver Disease Center, Stomach and Intestine/ IBD Center, Endoscopy Center, Dialysis Center, Diabetes Center, Aesthetic Medical Center, Clinical Environmental Medical Center, Women’ s Department, Artificial Joint Center, Endoscopic Surgery Center, Headache Center, Forgetfulness Clinic, Athlete’ s Counseling Room, Second Opinion, Medical Fitness Center, Sports Medical Center
Payment Methods
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5-9-1 Shirokane, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8642
10 minutes on foot from the
Tokyo Metro Hiroo Station
12 minutes on foot from the
Tokyo Metro/ Toei Subway
Shirokane-Takanawa Station
30 minutes from
Tokyo International Airport
(Haneda Airport) by car
70 minutes from
Narita International Airport
by car