Cholesterol Drug Lowers Risk in Heart Attack Survivors

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In a large clinical trial involving 18,924 patients who had recently experienced a heart attack, researchers found that the cholesterol-lowering medication alirocumab (Praluent) reduced the risk of additional heart problems and stroke. The study was conducted by researchers at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora and involved data on people in 57 countries. It was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Alirocumab, which is in a class of drugs called PCSK9 (proprotein convertase subtilisin–kexin type 9) antibodies, was approved by the FDA in 2015 to treat high cholesterol. According to the Colorado researchers, the drug increases the number of receptors on the liver that draw LDL (“bad”) cholesterol particles from the blood and break them down, lowering LDL levels by about 50 percent.

The study included patients who were at least 40, had been hospitalized with a heart attack or unstable angina, and were taking a high-dose statin. Half of the study participants took alirocumab by self-injection every two weeks for an average of about three years, and the other half had placebo injections. During the study period, LDL levels averaged 40 to 66 mg mg/dL in those receiving alirocumab and 93 to 103 mg/dL in the other group. Alirocumab also reduced the risk of death from heart disease, heart attack, unstable angina, and stroke by about 15 percent.

Sourced from: New England Journal of Medicine