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Scientists discover surprising effect cholesterol-lowering drug has on heart disease risk

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a staggering 54% of U.S. adults have high cholesterol and could benefit from medication.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston set out to find the effects a new cholesterol medication had on patients. They divided more than 10,000 patients. Half were given the drug pemafibrate. The other half was given a placebo. Both groups were followed for three years, from 2017-2020, and all patients had Type 2 diabetes. Study results showed pemafibrate decreased cholesterol levels by 26% compared to the placebo, but it did not reduce the risk of heart disease. 

“This medication class is the second most commonly used group, after statins, to lower cholesterol levels and while the medication did not increase cardiovascular risk, the study raises new questions about the best way to treat patients … who continue to experience a high rate of cardiovascular events,” study author Dr. Aruna Pradhan said in a news release.

Pradhan and her team were surprised by the findings and say a drug that lowers cholesterol should also reduce risk of cardiac events.

She says more research is critical to finding a solution to this problem.