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New Pill Cuts Cholesterol and Heart Attacks

New Pill Cuts Cholesterol and Heart Attacks. Credit: Daniel Foster, CC BY-NC-SA

A new cholesterol-lowering drug called Nexletol has shown promise in reducing the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems in people who cannot tolerate traditional statin drugs, according to a major study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting. The study was also published in the New England Journal of Medicine

Statins For High Cholesterol

Statins like Lipitor and Crestor are currently the first-choice treatment for high cholesterol, which can lead to clogged arteries and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. However, an estimated 10% of people who would otherwise qualify for statins cannot take them due to side effects like serious muscle pain.

Nexletol, also known as bempedoic acid, works by blocking cholesterol production in the liver but without the muscle side effects of statins.

Details of the research

The research, over the course of five years, followed close to 14,000 patients who were unable to take any amount of a statin higher than a very modest dosage. The Nexletol was given to half of the participants on a daily basis, while the other half got a placebo.

The results showed that patients treated with Nexletol had a 13% lower risk of major cardiac problems, including a 23% reduced risk of heart attacks and a 19% reduction in procedures to unclog arteries.

The main lead of the study, Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, stressed that while statins remain “the cornerstone of cholesterol-lowering therapies,” Nexletol may offer a new option for patients who cannot tolerate statins.

He noted that such patients are “very needy” and “extremely difficult to treat,” and the availability of Nexletol could have a “huge impact on public health.”

The study’s results were funded by Nexletol maker Esperion Therapeutics, but Dr. John H. Alexander of Duke University called the data “compelling” and suggested that it “will and should” spur greater use of Nexletol among patients who cannot take statins.

However, he cautioned that it is premature to consider Nexletol as an alternative to statins, which remain the top choice for most patients due to overwhelming evidence of their vascular benefits.

Promising Pill For Treating High Cholesterol

The development of Nexletol represents a promising breakthrough in the treatment of high cholesterol and the prevention of heart disease, offering new hope to patients who cannot tolerate traditional statin drugs.

“It’s important for the public to understand that the vast majority of patients can be treated with statins,” Dr. Nissen said. “The drugs are very effective and they have been studied in hundreds of thousands of patients. We were studying a very special group of patients.”

The potential of Nexletol to reduce the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems could have a significant impact on public health, particularly for those who are most in need of effective cholesterol-lowering therapies.

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