An innovative new drug can prevent heart attacks and strokes by cutting bad cholesterol to unprecedented levels, say doctors. The results of the large international trial on 27,000 patients means the drug could soon be used by millions. The British Heart Foundation said the findings were a significant advance in fighting the biggest killer in the world.
Around 15 million people die each year from heart attacks or stroke. Bad cholesterol is the villain in heart world - it leads to blood vessels furring up, becoming easy to block which fatally starves the heart or brain of oxygen. It is why millions of people take drugs called statins to reduce the amount of bad cholesterol.
The new drug - evolocumab - changes the way the liver works to also cut bad cholesterol. The patients in the trial were already taking statins and yet their risk was cut further by the new therapy. The study showed that one heart attack or stroke was prevented for every 74 patients taking the drug in the two-year trial.
It is too soon to know if the drug is saving lives. Evolocumab is an antibody just like the weapons used by the immune system to fight infection. However, it has been designed to target a protein in the liver with the name PCSK9. And ultimately it makes the organ better at whipping bad cholesterol out of the blood and breaking it down.
Other trials have shown such antibodies have cut bad cholesterol levels by 60% and Amgen is not the only company looking at this approach. The antibody is given by injection into the skin every two to four weeks.However, Prof Sever said: “They will probably not [replace statins], there are an awful lot of people with really quite high cholesterol out there and we’ll probably need more than one drug to get their levels down.”
Courtesy: BBC health