New pill ‘as effective’ as statins for lowering cholesterol

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that can accumulate in the blood.

Having high cholesterol means you have too much of this substance. This can be dangerous as over time it can lead to build-ups in the blood vessels.

If this is not treated it can lead to a number of dangerous medical emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes.

One of the most common treatments for high cholesterol are statins, a group of medications that work to lower what is known as “bad” cholesterol in the blood.

While these drugs are typically effective they can be accompanied by uncomfortable side effects such as muscle and joint pain and stomach problems.

Now scientists believe they have discovered a new pill, as effective at reducing cholesterol as statins.

The medication, called bepedoic acid, could provide an alternative for patients who are unable to tolerate the popular drugs.

Study co-author Doctor Michael Lincoff, from the Cleveland Clinic in the US, explained: “Our findings indicate bempedoic acid may be a valuable therapy for patients who cannot tolerate adequate doses of statins or who need to further lower their low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.”

Also known as “bad” cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein is the type of cholesterol that raises your risk for problems such as heart disease and stroke – unlike high-density lipoprotein, which can lower it.

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As part of the research, the US team analysed data from the CLEAR Outcomes Trial which enrolled 13,970 statin-intolerant patients.

Main results released in March found that bempedoic acid lowered low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels on average by 21 percent.

It also reduced cardiovascular events, including heart attack, stroke, and procedures to open blocked blood vessels to the heart, by 13 percent.

The medication works by blocking a key enzyme in the body, called ATP-citrate, used to make cholesterol.

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Heart and circulatory disease are among the biggest killers in the UK, accounting for around a quarter of all deaths.

And globally around one in six deaths are caused by coronary heart disease.

Dr Lincoff emphasised the importance of the findings.

He said: “Cardiovascular disease remains the most prevalent cause of mortality and morbidity in the world.

“Medications to lower cholesterol offer an important tool to diminish this risk.”

According to the NHS, high cholesterol is often caused by factors such as eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol. However, it can also run in families.

Therefore to lower your risk of high cholesterol the health body advises:

  • Losing weight if you are overweight
  • Cutting back on fatty foods – especially saturated fats
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Exercising for 150 minutes a week
  • Quitting smoking
  • Cutting back on alcohol.

If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels you should speak to your doctor.

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