Millions of people who are unable to take statins, the first-choice treatment for high cholesterol, due to side effects may now have a new option. In a recent study, researchers found that taking bempedoic acid, a drug known as Nexletol, can reduce the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues in individuals who cannot tolerate statins. Doctors had previously prescribed bempedoic acid, in combination with a statin, to help certain high-risk patients lower their cholesterol, but this is the first evidence that the drug can be used independently for this purpose.
A recent five-year study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented Saturday at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, has found that daily intake of the cholesterol-lowering drug Nexletol can reduce the risk of major cardiac problems by 13%, heart attacks by 23%, and procedures to unclog arteries by 19%. The study, involving 14000 people, further revealed the efficacy of bempedoic acid is comparable to statins in reducing deaths.
Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, who led the study, stated, "though statins remain the cornerstone of cholesterol-lowering therapies, people with statin intolerance can be highly benefitted by this introduction." He added, "Sometimes statins cause serious muscle pain in some people making the individuals who are otherwise eligible for medication unable to or unwilling to take it. Nexletol blocks cholesterol production in the liver but differently than statins without causing the muscle side effect."
The research, funded by the drug's maker Esperion Therapeutics, suggests
that use of bempedoic acid as a cholesterol-lowering drug could be an effective
alternative to statins for patients who are unable or unwilling to take them. However,
Dr. John H. Alexander of Duke University warns that while the results are
compelling, they should not be used as a replacement for statins, which are
still the best choice for most patients.
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