New Drug Helps Increase HDL Levels

SYoung Health Guide
  • Let me start by saying that I am not in the business of promoting new drugs and medications. I take Lipitor as prescribed by my cardiologist because I have a hard time keeping my cholesterol low through simple diet and exercise. That said, I stumbled across this very interesting tidbit of information the other day about a new medication that has shown some real promise in helping boost HDL levels in high cholesterol sufferers who have a hard time raising and maintaining high HDL (good cholesterol) levels.


    In high cholesterol sufferers, the higher the HDL the better! High levels of HDL are positively associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease (as I have previously written in this blog), but as mentioned above even with a healthy diet and exercise many have a hard time maintaining those elevated levels of HDL. However, new research suggests that a medication known as anacetrapib (which works by blocking a protein that shuttles cholesterol away from HDL particles, where it is safe, and adds it to LDL and other types of particles, where it is harmful) dramatically increases HDL levels without harmful side effects. Results of the study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and announced at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association.

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    The study involved over 1,600 people, and most of the participants already had some kind of heart disease, while others had risk factors making them equally at risk of developing heart problems in the future. Everyone who participated in the study was already taking statin medications and getting good results. For example, the average LDL cholesterol level was about 80 mg/dL at the beginning of the study. (In people who have heart disease, doctors aim for a goal of 100 mg/dL or lower.)


    The test subjects were randomly assigned to take 100 mg of anacetrapib each day or a lookalike placebo pill. After about eighteen months, people who took anacetrapib had an HDL level of 101 mg/dL, on average (an increase of 138 percent), while their LDL cholesterol level fell to 45 mg/dL, on average (a decrease of about 40 percent). Participants who were given the placebo pill didn't experience any significant change in their cholesterol levels.


    But the most important result from this test was the news that anacetrapib didn't seem to cause harmful side effects. This was especially good news as earlier tests and studies on medication similar to anacetrapib caused high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attack and death.


    I still prefer treating my disease (or increasing my HDL level) through diet and exercise and when possible these should be the preferred venues for those of us suffering from high cholesterol. However, this new promising study gives real, and safe, hope to those seeking additional ways of improving their heart health.

Published On: December 01, 2010