A recent study has found that a medication meant to prevent heart attacks is good at reducing cholesterol levels but ineffective for heart issues.
The medication, evacetrapib [Ev-Ah-SET-rah-pib], reduced a person’s LDL cholesterol, the dangerous kind, and boosted HDL cholesterol, the good kind. But it didn’t reduce rates of heart disease, heart attack or stroke. The phase 3 trial compared the heart health of people taking the medication with others not taking it, and found the same number of heart attacks between the two groups.
Australian researchers presented their findings at an American College of Cardiology meeting earlier this year. Their study involved more than 12,000 patients seen at about 540 medical sites worldwide. All of the participants were at high risk for major cardiovascular difficulties, and took either a placebo or the medication for 18 months or more.
While those taking evacetrapib showed more healthful cholesterol levels than the placebo group, they didn’t see the drug’s intended benefit: fewer heart attacks, strokes and cases of heart disease. The drug manufacturer stopped the trial after it became overwhelmingly evident that it wasn’t preventing major cardiovascular events. Experts are unsure why the improvement in cholesterol levels that evacetrapib brings does not reduce heart attacks and cardiovascular issues.
This revelation sends the drug company that created the medication back to the drawing board, and also challenges doctors and patients to seek heart health through other means, including beneficial diet and lifestyle habits.