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New Anti-Cholesterol Drug May Help Statin Adverse Patients

Tim Boyer's picture
Anti-Cholesterol Statin Drug

Researchers from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City presented this week at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session in San Francisco, their discovery that a relatively new statin drug for lowering cholesterol may help patients who suffer from the side effects of commonly prescribed statin drugs.


Statin drugs block the action of liver enzymes that are responsible for producing cholesterol―a plaque-building molecule that adheres to arterial walls causing hardening of the arteries, which can then increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Unfortunately, however, statin drugs for many are fraught with side effects that can offset the benefit to risk ratio. Currently, only a handful of statin options are available that can provide a significant reduction in blood cholesterol levels.

The good news is that a new statin drug may hold promise for treating high cholesterol without the same commonly associated side effects of other cholesterol lowering drugs, According to a press release issued by the Intermountain Heart Institute, a new cholesterol drug called pitavastatin―also known under the brand name Livalo―may play a vital role in lowering cholesterol in patients who experience common side effects such as: Flushing of the skin and or rashes, muscle aches, tenderness or weakness known as myalgia, and abdominal pain or cramping.

“Many of the patients who were not able to tolerate other statins developed side effects, such as myalgia or severe muscle aches. However, our study shows that pitavastatin may be a more tolerable statin that patients can take that will be effective in lowering their cholesterol, and may even save their lives,” said Brent Muhlestein, MD, cardiologist at the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center, and lead researcher for the study.

In the study, 40 statin-taking patients were tested to determine the tolerance and effectiveness of pitavastatin in comparison to other cholesterol lowering drugs. What the researchers found was that given a daily dose of 2 milligrams of pitavastatin resulted in not only a reduction in blood cholesterol levels of an average of 34%, but that the majority of patients―68%―were able to tolerate its side effects.

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According to Dr. Muhlestein, pitavastatin offers patients a statin alternative with side effects that differ in comparison to other statin drugs and therefore may prove to more tolerable to patients as well as help significantly lower their cholesterol.

We’re excited about these findings,” said Dr. Muhlestein. “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.”

A recent monograph of the drug pitavastatin can be found online at docstoc.com.

Image Courtesy of MorgueFile

Reference: American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session ACC.13; “Tolerability and Efficacy of Pitavastatin among Hyperlipidemic Patients Intolerant to at Least Two Other Statins”; Intermountain Medical Center, Murray, Utah; Bobbi Hollaway et al.



This is good news. Many people don't recognize their cholesterol drug is giving side effects and instead chalk up their aches and pains to other issues.