According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 71 million Americans, or 33.5 percent of the U.S. population, suffer from high levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.
For nearly 25 years, people have used drugs known as statins to lower their LDL, the Boston Globe reported. Statins work by phasing out the enzymes that slow the synthesis of cholesterol, and a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that they may also be beneficial in combating cancer.
Statins are not effective in reducing the LDL in 30 to 50 percent of patients, Robert Giugliano, M.D., a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told the Boston Globe. Some patients who take statins subsequently suffer from liver side effects and severe muscle aches.
The news source reports that Giugliano and his colleagues have been conducting preliminary trials in which patients are given weekly, biweekly or monthly injections of a new breed of drug, known as monoclonal antibodies. The new medication, which may be taken in conjunction with statins, binds to a protein known as PCSK9, which usually attaches to the cholesterol receptors on the liver and inhibits them from reducing the LDL in blood. When the monoclonal antibodies are bound to the PCSK9 protein, they cannot attach to the liver, thus allowing the LDL receptors to effectively process the cholesterol.
According to the Globe, a recent trial published in the journal the Lancet, looked at the drug’s effect on 631 patients with high cholesterol. The results showed that patients who got a biweekly regimen of the drug for three months had a 42 to 66 percent greater reduction in their cholesterol levels than the placebo group, while those who received monthly injections of the drug, experienced a 42 to 50 percent reduction in their LDL levels compared to the control group.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers of the drug, Sanofi and Regeneron, recently announced they are beginning a Phase 3 trial of their medication, which features monoclonal antibodies. The testing, is necessary to receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will involve nearly 18,000 subjects who suffer from heart disease, notes the Boston Globe.
Other ways to reduce cholesterol
While medications can help lower cholesterol, there are a variety of ways for patients to control their LDL naturally. One way that Harvard Medical School (HMS) suggests, involves consuming only a small amount of meat. When doing so, people should eat fish or lean poultry rather than fatty beef or pork.
HMS recommends consuming more complex carbohydrates and fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, like beans and peas. The source notes that people should reduce the amount of saturated fats they have in their foods and when making a meal, they should use cooking oils rather than butter.
Reading the labels of food can also be beneficial for a low cholesterol diet. HMS suggests avoiding excessive consumption of meat fat, coconut or palm oil, dairy products, eggs, cocoa butter, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat or oil.
The University of Maryland also reports that omega-3 fatty acids may be able to boost HDL, or “good” cholesterol, while decreasing the amount of triglycerides, or fat found in the blood. Other possible benefits of omega-3s include lowering blood pressure and reducing the chance of developing cardiovascular disease. People can get omega-3s from chia seeds, hemp milk, flax seeds and an Omegakrill supplement from Dr. Newton’s Naturals.