In a recent study, researchers found that a treatment strongly reduced heart attacks and strokes in patients who continue to have high triglyceride levels on statin therapy.
The new finding may help develop a more effective and life-saving treatment when combined with other drugs to treat heart disease.
The study was done by a team at Baylor College of Medicine.
Statins are the most commonly used cholesterol-lowering drugs for heart disease. Triglycerides play an important role in heart disease.
Previous research has found that if triglyceride levels remain high with the use of statins, there is still a big risk for heart attack, stroke or other heart disease events.
In the current study, the team focused on icosapent ethyl, a highly purified eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) ethyl ester, which is an omega-3 fatty acid purified from fish oil.
They aimed to see whether treatment with this drug could reduce heart attacks and strokes in patients have high triglyceride levels on statin therapy.
The team tested more than 8,000 participants and followed them for up to six years.
All participants were being treated with statins and had a higher level of triglyceride than that in healthy people.
In the study, Some patients were given a 4-gram daily dosage of icosapent ethyl ester while others were given a placebo.
The team found that people who took the drug showed about 25% reduction in heart attacks and strokes.
They suggest that EPA may help prevent heart attacks and strokes and support previous findings that EPA could cut heart disease and stroke by 19% in people with high cholesterol on a low-dose of statin.
In the future, the team will try to find out what mechanisms of the effects. They hope their findings can help develop better treatment for heart disease and stroke.
The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
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