Could this cholesterol drug save your heart?

An experimental new drug being used to boost the effectiveness of cholesterol medication has had dramatic results in clinical trials.

Around 1.5 million Australians are living with high cholesterol, leading to thousands of cases of heart disease each year and around 100 strokes in Australia each day.

But now there may be a new tool in the fight against high cholesterol and heart disease.

Researchers from Monash University’s Victorian Heart Institute have led trials of a new type of therapy that when used in conjunction with prescribed medication can lower levels of LDL cholesterol, or ‘bad’ cholesterol, by as much as 50 per cent.

Read: Lowering can stop cancer spread: researchers

The new drug is called obicetrapib and works in combination with existing cholesterol-lowering medications called statins. The combination works by blocking a mechanism that turns good cholesterol into bad in the bloodstream.

“Currently, the most commonly used medications are statins, but many patients still have cholesterol levels that remain too high, while other patients are unable to tolerate them,” says the study’s lead author, Professor Stephen Nicholls.

The group presented the results of the Phase 2 randomised study of obicetrapib as an adjunct to statin therapy (ROSE trial) to the American Heart Association (AHA).

The trial involved 120 participants with a median age of 60 who were already on statin therapy. The results showed those receiving 10mg of obicetrapib saw a reduction of bad cholesterol levels of 50 per cent.

Read: How to keep your cholesterol in check

“We think that’s a very significant result,” Prof. Nicholls says.

“If you could have that on top of a statin … suddenly you’ve got the ability to lower somebody’s bad cholesterol levels by 75 to 80 per cent, which would make a huge difference in terms of lowering the risk of heart attack, stroke or needing a stent.

The news of the new treatment comes as America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval to two new non-statin cholesterol drugs, Nexletol and Nexlizet. The two are the first non-statin cholesterol medications approved for use in the US since the 1990s.

Both treatments are taken orally and contain a cholesterol-lowering compound called bempedoic acid.

“The difference between Nexletol and Nexlizet is the latter contains ezetimibe – a cholesterol-lowering agent that has been available for many years that works by preventing the absorption of cholesterol from foods,” says cardiologist Dr Richard C. Becker.

Read: The diet that’s best for weight loss and cholesterol

Of course, apart from medication there are a number of changes you can make to your diet to get your cholesterol to a safer level.

Another study found that a traditional Mediterranean diet, which avoids red meat, sugar and processed foods while encouraging eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and heart-healthy fats such as fish, can drastically lower cholesterol levels in at-risk individuals.

To keep cholesterol low, experts recommend avoiding saturated fats (found in full fat dairy, fried food and processed foods) and trans fats (found in butter, baked goods and other deep-fried foods).

Could this new treatment help you get your cholesterol down? Are you aware of cholesterol when choosing what to eat? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
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