Skip to content

Cholesterol & Triglycerides Health Center

Font Size

Drug Cuts Cholesterol Beyond What Statins Can Do?

Whether it also prevents heart attacks and strokes isn't known yet, experts say

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, March 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Two studies find that an experimental cholesterol-lowering drug is effective when combined with statins and beats another add-on drug when it comes to helping hard-to-treat patients.

The drug, evolocumab, is an injectable antibody that works differently than statins by increasing the ability of the liver to clear LDL ("bad") cholesterol from the blood. The value of this drug is that it lowers cholesterol in patients who cannot tolerate statins or for whom statins don't lower cholesterol enough.

"These two new studies provide further evidence of the efficacy of evolocumab for lowering LDL cholesterol in statin-treated and in statin-intolerant patients. The results are impressive," said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, who had no part in either study.

Both studies were funded by Amgen, the maker of evolocumab, and the results were scheduled to be presented Sunday at the American College of Cardiology's annual meeting, in Washington, D.C.

"Evolocumab may provide an effective option for patients needing additional LDL-cholesterol lowering," said Dr. Jennifer Robinson, director of the Prevention Intervention Center at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, and lead author of the first study.

In that trial, evolocumab was added to statins such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor). The trial, which involved almost 1,900 patients, also compared the effectiveness of evolucumab when pitted against ezetimibe (Zetia), another drug that can be added to statin therapy to further reduce cholesterol.

"Evolocumab further reduces LDL cholesterol by about 65 to 75 percent when added to a statin. Evolocumab reduces LDL cholesterol more than ezetimibe -- about a 15 to 20 percent additional LDL-cholesterol reduction, when added to statin," Robinson said.

"A [different] trial is under way to determine if the addition of evolocumab will further reduce heart attack and stroke in statin-treated patients with cardiovascular disease," she added.

For the second trial, a research team led by Dr. Erik S.G. Stroes, chair of the department of vascular medicine at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, found that evolocumab was more effective than Zetia in lowering cholesterol beyond what could be achieved by statins alone.

The researchers treated 307 patients with evolocumab or the widely used Zetia. LDL cholesterol was reduced by up to 56 percent in patients using evolocumab. That was almost a 39 percent larger reduction than Zetia achieved, he said.

"We finally seem to have a good alternative treatment for patients who experience severe side effects to statin therapy. The combination of a robust cholesterol-lowering effect with minimal side effects make evolocumab a promising treatment for those patients not tolerating statin therapy," Stroes said.

Dr. David Friedman, chief of heart failure services at Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream, N.Y., said reaching LDL cholesterol-lowering goals in high-risk heart patients poses an ongoing challenge.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Is Your Cholesterol Level Heart Healthy?
What is your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) level?

Get the latest Cholesterol Management newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Desirable
0-199
Borderline
200-239
High
240+

Your level is currently

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal.

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is borderline high. If your LDL goes higher, your total cholesterol level could become Borderline High. Consider reducing the amount of foods you eat with saturated fats and increasing physical activity. If you get more exercise, your level of "good" HDL cholesterol may increase, which could also help to keep your levels of LDL and total cholesterol in check.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL. The HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL because the HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. But your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as statins. Following medication, dietary, and exercise instructions should result in improvements.

Your total cholesterol level is High, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

woman pulling supplements from shelf
Can they help lower yours?
bowl of yogurt with heart shape
What it can do for you.
 
woman exercising
14 practical tips.
chocolate glazed donut and avocado
What your levels mean.
 
Heart Foods Slideshow
Slideshow
Cholesterol Fact or Fiction
Quiz
 
Food & Fitness Planner
TOOL
Attractive salad
ARTICLE
 
Heart Disease Overview Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
worst sandwich slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
Fat Foods Fit Foods
SLIDESHOW
Bad Cholesterol
VIDEO
 

WebMD Special Sections