A new class of cholesterol-lowering drug has been found to help patients cut their risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack.
In a trial of more than 27,000 patients, researchers found that taking monthly or twice-monthly injections of the medication, called evolocumab, on top of statins could cut cholesterol levels by almost 60 per cent on average in patients with an underlying risk of cardiovascular disease.
The international team, which includes researchers from Imperial College London, says the drug could provide added benefit to patients already taking statins by further reducing the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in their blood.
“This is one of the most important trials of cholesterol-lowering since the first statin trial, published 20 years ago,” said Professor Peter Sever, from the National Heart and Lung institute at Imperial, who led the UK arm of the trial involving 1,500 patients across 75 centers.
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“Our results suggest this new, extremely potent class of drug can cut cholesterol dramatically, which could provide great benefit for a lot of people at risk of heart disease and stroke.”
In the study, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers looked at the protective effect of evolocumab on patients in 49 countries, with a history of atherosclerotic vascular disease, who were already taking statins to reduce their cholesterol.
Patients on the trial, who continued to take statins, were chosen to randomly receive either injections of evolocumab — 140 mg twice a month, or 420 mg once a month — or placebo injections.