In a new study, researchers found that using another drug additional to statins may help lower LDL cholesterol effectively in people at high risks of heart disease and stroke.
The new drug is called bempedoic acid.
The new finding could provide a new treatment option for lowering LDL cholesterol and improving heart health.
The research was conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
LDL cholesterol is low-density lipoproteins. It is called the “bad” cholesterol because a high LDL level can lead to a buildup of plaque in arteries.
Coronary artery disease can occur when the plaque buildup is in the arteries of the heart.
Previous studies showed statins are highly effective at reducing cholesterol and cutting the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
However, statins block an enzyme that the liver uses to make cholesterol and also inhibit cholesterol production in muscles.
Many patients develop muscle pain and have to reduce the statin dose they take. Sometimes they have to stop using statins.
In the study, the team tested the new drug in 779 patients. Their average age was 64 years and more than 60% were men.
All patients had LDL cholesterol levels of at least 100 mg/dL and were already taking the highest tolerated dose of a statin. Many of them also had high blood pressure or diabetes.
Patients took either bempedoic acid 180 mg tablet once a day or an identical placebo tablet once a day as an add-on to the statin they were already taking.
The team found LDL cholesterol levels in patients who received the new drug were reduced by 17.4% after 12 weeks of treatment. The reduction lasted 52 weeks of treatment.
In addition, there were no strong side effects, such as serious muscle-related problems.
The researchers suggest that new drug bempedoic acid blocks the liver from making cholesterol, but unlike statins, it does not block cholesterol production in muscles.
The finding suggests that bempedoic acid may be less likely than statins to cause muscle pain and may help cut LDL cholesterol levels in patients who cannot take statins too much.
The new drug provides a new option for many people with a high risk of heart disease.
The lead author of the study is Anne C. Goldberg, MD, professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The study was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session.
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