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Apr 16, 2014

New Class of Drugs Helps Lower Cholesterol

New drug, evolocumab, may help dramatically lower “bad” cholesterol levels, according to multiple research trials.

A new class of drugs may help dramatically lower cholesterol, according to two studies recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The new drug called evolocumab has been shown to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol—the “bad” type of cholesterol that increases risk of heart disease. The safety and efficacy of evolocumab is currently being tested before it hits the market and, so far, findings are promising.

In the DESCARTES study (Durable Effect of PCSK9 Antibody Compared with Placebo Study), 901 subjects with high cholesterol were randomly chosen to receive various lipid-lowering therapies, including evolocumab. After following patients for one year, researchers found that evolocumab helped dramatically lower “bad” cholesterol in patients taking the active drug vs. inactive placebo.

Similarly, the RUTHERFORD-2 study (Reduction of LDL-C with PCSK9 Inhibition in Heterozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia Disorder Study 2) found that evolocumab helped improve cholesterol levels in patients with a genetic disorder called familial hypercholesterolemia. Familial hypercholesterolemia is a condition that causes high levels of “bad” cholesterol beginning at birth and can cause heart attacks at an early age. In this 12-week trial including 331 patients with this condition, researchers found that evolocumab administered bi-weekly or monthly reduced “bad” cholesterol by as much as 63%.

For patients who can’t tolerate other cholesterol-lowering drugs or who haven’t achieved normal cholesterol levels through available therapies, study findings are promising. The prospect of a new, effective drug could help more patients achieve a healthy cholesterol level and hopefully reduce their risk for heart attack. However, experts highlight the importance of further long-term research involving evolocumab. Although recent trials demonstrate the cholesterol-lowering benefits of this new drug, doctors hope to see evidence linking evolocumab to reduced risk for heart disease and heart attack.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is evolocumab?
  • Evolocumab is a new type of drug that may help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol—the “bad” type of cholesterol that increases risk of heart disease. Evolocumab works by blocking a protein that can interfere with the liver’s ability to remove “bad” cholesterol from the blood.
  • Can I lower my cholesterol without medication?

  • Yes. There are a variety of lifestyle changes that can help lower cholesterol, including exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthy and quitting smoking (if a smoker). However, lifestyle changes may not be enough to lower cholesterol for some, especially those with a family history of high cholesterol.

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