For people who can't take statin drugs, a cholesterol-lowering drug called bempedoic acid (Nexletol) can also lower the risk of heart attacks and related problems, a new study shows.
Published July 11, 2023, in JAMA, the study included about 4,200 people with high LDL (bad) cholesterol who couldn't take statins because of side effects. Their average age was 68, and about two-thirds had diabetes. Participants were randomly assigned to take either bempedoic acid or a placebo. Over a follow-up period of about 40 months, those taking the drug were 30% less likely to die of a heart-related condition, have a heart attack or stroke, or need an artery-opening stent compared with the people who took placebos. Bempedoic acid reduced LDL levels by 21%.
About 5% to 10% of people who try statins have to stop taking them, mostly because of muscle-related symptoms. This problem is less likely with bempedoic acid, although the drug has other side effects, including a slightly increased risk of gout and gallstones. Still, bempedoic acid can be a good alternative for people at high risk of heart disease who can't take statins.
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