Treating high cholesterol without statins? Scientists say new alternative looks promising

Treating high cholesterol without statins? Scientists say new alternative looks promising

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — We know untreated high cholesterol could lead to heart disease or stroke and statins are usually the gold standard treatment.

However, not everyone can take them. Now, Cleveland Clinic researchers are leading a trial looking into an alternative to statins.

Stroke and heart disease are two leading causes of death in the U.S., both of which could be a result of high cholesterol. Statins play a pivotal role in lowering LDL levels – also known as “bad cholesterol” – in the body, but not for everyone.

“There are some people, probably about 10 to 15 percent of the population, that just don’t tolerate statins,” said Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Steven Nissen.

He and his team are evaluating a statin alternative in a trial called Clear Outcomes.

“Bempedoic acid does lower cholesterol, it’s a bit less effective, but it can be combined with another drug, known as ezetimibe, and the two together can lower the bad cholesterol,” said Nissen.

High cholesterol is a silent illness because you don’t show symptoms until it causes other problems in your body, like serious cardiac events.

The only way to diagnose high levels of LDL is through a blood test called a lipid panel, which tells you how many lipids or fats are circulating in your blood.

At the end of the trial, researchers found there was a 13% reduction of cardiovascular death, heart attack, and stroke in the patients that received the statin alternative.

“Those people who can’t tolerate statins are good candidates to be treated with bempedoic acid,” Nissen said.

There are a few risks associated with the alternative, including a 1% increase in the risk of gout and an increased risk of gallstones. Ask your doctor if this therapy could work for you.

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