New York, March 18 (IANS) A new class of cholesterol-lowering drug, when added to statin therapy could cut cholesterol levels by almost 60 per cent on average in patients with an underlying risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart atack or stroke, a study has found.
In the study, detailed in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers showed that taking monthly or twice-monthly injections of the medication Evolocumab -- one of the new targeted PCSK9 inhibitor drugs -- along with statins therapy dramatically lowered the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol by an average of 59 per cent, from 92 mg/dL to 30 mg/dL.
"With this trial, we now have definitive data that by adding evolocumab to a background of statin therapy, we can significantly improve cardiovascular outcomes and do so safely," said lead author Marc S. Sabatine from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
In addition, the patients treated with evolocumab had a 15 per cent reduction in the risk of major cardiovascular events, defined as cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, stroke, hospitalisation for unstable angina, or coronary revascularisation.
This reduction in risk improved over time, increasing from 16 per cent in the first year to 25 per cent after the first year, the researchers said.
For the study, the team looked at the protective effect of evolocumab on 27,564 patients, aged 40-85 from 49 countries, with a history of atherosclerotic vascular disease, who were already taking statins to reduce their cholesterol.
Evolocumab is a fully human monoclonal antibody that works by blocking proprotein convertase subtilisin-kexin 9 (PCSK) -- a protein that reduces the liver's ability to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood.
It was approved for use in the US in 2016 as an addition to statin therapy and lifestyle changes aimed at lowering LDL cholesterol.