Statins are the most common drugs used to lower cholesterol levels, but many people who suffer from side effects or cannot take them might have another option.
In a study at the Cleveland Clinic, researchers tested a new type of cholesterol-lowering medication called Nexletol.
They found it could reduce the risk of heart attacks and other heart problems in people who cannot tolerate statins.
The drug, also known as bempedoic acid, is already used together with statins to lower cholesterol levels in high-risk patients.
However, the team tested Nexletol without the statin combination and found it to be effective in reducing cholesterol-related health problems.
Too much bad cholesterol can cause artery blockages, leading to heart attacks and strokes.
Statin pills are the main treatment for lowering LDL cholesterol and preventing heart disease or treating those who already have it.
However, some people experience muscle pain from statins and cannot take them.
In the study, researchers tracked nearly 14,000 people who were unable to tolerate more than a very low dose of a statin for five years. Half of them took Nexletol every day and the other half took a placebo pill.
The results showed that Nexletol-treated patients had a 13% lower risk of major cardiac problems, including a 23% lower risk of heart attack and a 19% lower risk of artery unclogging procedures.
No difference in deaths was found.
The team says the results were compelling and would spur the use of the drug by patients unwilling or unable to take statins.
But it was premature to consider bempedoic acid as an alternative to statins, which remain the top choice for most patients.
If you care about heart health, please read studies about Aspirin is linked to higher risk of heart failure, and how to remove plaques that cause heart attacks.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies that Vitamin D deficiency can increase heart disease risk, and results showing Vitamin K2 could help reduce heart disease risk.
The study was conducted by Steven E. Nissen et al and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
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