More Tools to Bust Heart Disease Risk

pills from a pill bottle being poured into a hand

When it comes to reducing cholesterol, new research from BWH hints certain interventions may be equally or more effective than statin medications. Looking at data from 30,000 participants in nearly 50 clinical trials, BWH’s TIMI Study Group found intensive diet changes, bypass surgery, and drugs including ezetimibe were able to reduce cardiovascular risk by 25 percent for each unit of blood measured. Meanwhile, the group saw a 23 percent reduction in cardiovascular risk with statins, currently the first-line therapy for lowering LDL cholesterol levels, also referred to as bad cholesterol.

The authors also show a strong relationship between a patient’s LDL cholesterol and their risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke, reinforcing the notion that when it comes to bad cholesterol, lower is better.

“Our approach to treatment shouldn’t be focused solely on a single line of therapy,” says Marc Sabatine, MD, MPH, chairman of the TIMI Study Group and a cardiologist at BWH. “It should be focused on the patient, and reducing risk by lowering LDL cholesterol using the appropriate tools [available].”