A new drug raises "good" cholesterol by as much as 130 percent, according to a new study.
Drugs called statins are already taken daily around the world to help lower LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fat that we need, but there are different types. LDL is a sticky substance which can cause blockages that can lead to a heart attack when too much of it builds up in the walls of blood vessels.
Doctors have been looking for a way to raise so-called "good" cholesterol, called HDL, to further prevent heart disease.
"Many patients, even though their 'bad' cholesterol has been lowered, continue to have heart attacks, strokes and other complications from abnormal cholesterol levels," says Dr. Steven Nissen, a leading researcher on heart disease at the Cleveland Clinic.
Nissen's search for a medication that raises "good" HDL cholesterol, to protect against heart disease, has focused on a drug called evacetrapib.
In a recent study almost 400 participants were given this medication alone or combined with a statin. Some received just statins or a placebo. The doctors then evaluated the participants' cholesterol.
"This new drug was able to raise levels of "good" cholesterol, of HDL cholesterol by nearly 130 percent," says Nissen. "The drug was also able to lower levels of the bad cholesterol LDL by 36 percent."
Researchers say the goal is to add this new medication to statin drugs. But more research needs to be done before the drug can be approved.
"In order to be approved we need to know not only whether the drug raises good cholesterol, lowers bad cholesterol," says Nissen, "but whether it also prevents those complications of having a high cholesterol, death, stroke, heart attack and related complications."