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Study finds that new statin has fewer side effects than other cholesterol-lowering drugs

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Study finds that new statin has fewer side effects than other cholesterol-lowering drugs

A study led by researchers at the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, shows that pivastatin, a new generation of drug that lower cholesterol can be used as an alternative in patients who can not tolerate other statins. It seems that pitavastatin has fewer side effects than other statins and the effects on the cardiovascular system are similar in that it lowers the risk of stroke, heart attack and death in patients with high cholesterol. The study results, presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session in San Francisco, are extremely useful because statistics show that up to 15% of patients cannot tolerate statins, which are the current most effective drugs for lowering cholesterol.

Statins

Statins

Statins inhibit a key enzyme in the formation of cholesterol, HMG-CoA reductase. By decreasing the amount of cholesterol in the blood,  also lowers LDL, which is the so-called ‘bad cholesterol’, meaning that it participates in cholesterol plaque formation. In addition to lipid-lowering effect, statins also have the effect of modulating the inflammatory response associated with atherogenesis, it stabilizes the endothelial function and cause regression of plaque already formed. Numerous studies have shown that statins are indeed useful for patients with high cholesterol as it decreases the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke and the risk of death. On the other hand statins can have significant side effects such as elevated transaminases, myalgia, muscle cramps, myopathy and others.

Brent Muhlestein, MD, cardiologist at the Heart Institute at Intermountain Intermountain Medical Center, and lead researcher for the study, said the study shows that pivastatin is a more tolerable statin that patients can take and can be equally effective in lowering cholesterol.

The researchers conducted the study on 40 patients who previously tried two other statins that were not well tolerated. At baseline patients were tested to see the level of LDL in the blood then they followed treatment with pivastatin ( 2 mg) per day. Those who could not bear the treatment without side effects were finally tested to see if LDL decreased. It was showed that 68% of study participants were able to tolerate pivastatin, and the patients who could best tolerate the drug was those that had no history of diabetes or heart disease. Also it was demonstrated that pivastatin decreased cholesterol on average by 34%. “If patients are having a hard time taking older statins, they should try this newer option. We believe the side effects of this drug differ from other statins because pitavastatin is water-soluble and metabolizes differently, “said Muhlestein.