Cleveland Clinic finds first drug to treat statin-intolerant patients

Cleveland Clinic researchers discovered a treatment that can reduce cholesterol and heart attacks in statin-intolerant patients.

The study used bempedoic acid, an FDA-approved cholesterol-lowering drug, to treat patients who were statin-intolerant, according to a hospital release. Statins are the standard first-line treatment for preventing cardiovascular disease; however, some patients have adverse side effects like muscle pain, headaches or weakness that prevent them from using statins.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, followed 13,970 statin-intolerant patients between December 2016 and August 2019 in 32 countries. All patients had a LDL cholesterol level of 100 mg/dL or higher and previous cardiac events or other risks for heart disease. Participants were given 180 mg of bempedoic acid or a placebo over three years.

People treated with bempedoic acid had 13 percent fewer cardiovascular events. The drug also reduced heart attacks by 23 percent and coronary revascularizations by 19 percent.

"Until now, there have not been any drugs designed specifically for statin-intolerant patients," lead author Steven Nissen, MD, chief academic officer of the Heart Vascular & Thoracic Institute at Cleveland Clinic, said in the release. "While statins remain the cornerstone of risk reduction in patients with elevated LDL cholesterol, this is a major step forward for a population who need statins but suffer troublesome side-effects."

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