Scientists say the medication, called bepedoic acid, will provide an alternative for patients who are unable to tolerate the popular drugs.
Around six million Britons take statins to reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
But some suffer undesirable side effects including severe muscle and joint pain, headaches and stomach problems.
Co-author Dr. Michael Lincoff, of the Cleveland Clinic in the U.S., said: “Our findings indicate bempedoic acid may be a valuable therapy for patients who cannot tolerate adequate doses of statins or who need to further lower their LDL cholesterol levels.”
Statins are widely prescribed to slow the liver’s production of “bad” or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
High levels can clot vessels – cutting off blood supply to the heart or brain.
The study of almost 14,000 participants found those taking bempedoic acid experienced a reduced risk of having a major cardiac event compared to peers given a placebo.
Results were comparable to those seen in individuals taking statins. It suggests different classes of cholesterol drugs have similar benefits for cardiovascular health.
Cardiovascular disease is the world’s number one killer – claiming around 18 million lives a year.
Bempedoic acid works by blocking a key enzyme in the body, called ATP-citrate, used to make cholesterol.
It works in a similar way to statins – the current most common medication for high cholesterol.
Dr. Lincoff said: “Cardiovascular disease remains the most prevalent cause of mortality and morbidity in the world.
“Medications to lower cholesterol offer an important tool to diminish this risk.”
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all cells in the body. The body only requires a small amount to function.
When cholesterol levels are too high, fat is deposited in the artery walls. This can raise the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Hormones – the body’s chemical messengers and a key part of the endocrine system – control the pathways for fats and proteins to move around the body.
The U.S. team analyzed data from the CLEAR Outcomes Trial, which enrolled 13,970 statin-intolerant patients.
The main results released in March found that bempedoic acid lowered LDL cholesterol levels on average by 21%.
It also reduced cardiovascular events, including heart attack, stroke, and procedures to open blocked blood vessels to the heart by 13%.
But it was not clear whether the beneficial effects are similar to what could be achieved by lowering LDL cholesterol to the same extent with statins.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Edited by Maham Javaid and Virginia Van Zandt