Biggest Change for Heart Medicine in a Decade?

Promising cholesterol and heart failure drugs welcome

Biggest change for heart medicine in a decade

Two new medications for cardiovascular disease may be life-changing.

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These “spectacular therapeutic breakthroughs both have enormous potential,” wrote Steven Nissen, MD, Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, in a post on MedPage Today.

There have not been changes this big in heart therapeutics in more than a decade, he says. Ask your doctor if either of these new drugs will be right for you:

PCSK9 inhibitors lower cholesterol without statins

Millions of people take statin medication to lower their “bad” LDL cholesterol. For some people, statins can cause side effects — most notably muscle pain — that make the drug intolerable.

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One of Cleveland Clinic’s Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2015, PCSK9 inhibitors are a new type of cholesterol-reducing drug. Studies have shown that they can reduce LDL by 50 to 70 percent with few, if any, adverse effects. They could very well become the go-to drug for patients who cannot tolerate statins. Or, they can be taken with statins to reduce LDL even more.

PCSK9 inhibitors are given by injection, once a month.

LCZ696 treats congestive heart failure more effectively

The commonly used drug enalapril helps treat congestive heart failure. But a new drug, LCZ696, may do it even better.

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Enalapril is an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor. It helps widen blood vessels and increase blood flow. LCZ696 is an ACE inhibitor combined with a second blood-pressure-lowering drug.

One trial showed that heart failure patients taking LCZ696 fared substantially better than patients taking enalapril. They had a lower rate of hospitalization and death. The evidence was so overwhelming, in fact, that the trial ended early.

“The introduction of PCSK9 inhibitors and LCZ696 offers patients innovative new therapeutic options, both of which are long-overdue breakthrough therapies that will change the practice of medicine,” says Dr. Nissen.