New High Cholesterol Medications On The Horizon

If your doctor has told you that you have high cholesterol, there are a number of treatment options you can consider.

Diet and exercise changes are the foundation of high cholesterol treatment. But for some people, these changes aren’t enough.

Your doctor may recommend a high cholesterol medication. There are several types of cholesterol-lowering medicines available. Statins (like Lipitor and Crestor) are the most commonly-prescribed medications to lower cholesterol. But if statins haven’t worked for you, you may need to try one or more different cholesterol-lowering medications to control your numbers.

Beyond Lifestyle Changes And Current Medications

Right now, a new class of drug is being developed for the possible treatment of high cholesterol. This potential new type of drug may help people who don’t respond to the other medications currently available.

PCSK9 (also known as Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9), is a gene that helps regulate how much cholesterol should be in the blood. The new drug class, called PCSK9 inhibitors, prevents the process that leads to too much bad cholesterol (LDL) circulating in your blood.[i] Too much cholesterol in your blood can lead to heart-related problems like heart attacks and strokes.

This new drug class is based on the finding that some people have a rare genetic mutation that keeps their LDL cholesterol levels very low, regardless of their lifestyle choices. One study found that certain people with this particular genetic mutation develop heart disease as much as 88 percent less frequently than members of the average population.[ii]

Lowering Cholesterol Is Not Enough

It seems that PCSK9 inhibitors could be extremely effective if you haven’t had success on other medications. But lowering cholesterol isn’t enough. In order to be effective, drug companies must show that PCSK9s also lower the risk of certain heart problems, such as heart attack, stroke, and chest pains.

Early results look promising. Findings presented at the annual American College of Cardiology meeting in March 2015 showed that treatment with PCSK9 inhibitors significantly reduced the rate of heart-related events after at least a year taking the medications.[iii]

More long-term studies are underway to further understand how safe and effective these drugs are for people who struggle with high cholesterol and the heart conditions it can cause. If approved, PCSK9 inhibitors could be a major step forward for people with high cholesterol and heart problems.

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