Alternatives to Statins for People Who Can't Take Popular Cholesterol Lowering Drugs

Cholesterol-lowering medication use is on the rise.

According to information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 83 percent of American adults who took a cholesterol lowering medicine took a statin.

But other studies show that up to 10 percent of people taking statins can't continue taking them or don't wish to because of severe muscle aches.

Those people might be vulnerable to heart disease if they stop taking their medications and their only other choices were medicines that decreased absorption of cholesterol or filtering of the blood — until now.

A new experimental drug called a PCSK9 INHIBITOR might change the landscape for many.

"What the drug does it blocks the action of a key protein in the body," said Dr. P.K. Shahof the Cedars Sinai Heart Institute. "That protein is called PCSK9, which allows then the liver to clear cholesterol from the blood and the cholesterol levels drop in the blood."

Bill Lindsman was one of the people who stopped taking statins but worried that might cause him to go back to a time when high cholesterol endangered him.

"I had a heart attack and it scared the heck out of me and it woke me up that I had to live a better lifestyle," he said.

Shah suggested the experimental drug for Lindsman.

"The major limitation is that they are injectable," Shah said. "They have to be given like an insulin injection."

Landsman did not hesitate, saying that limitation didn't bother him at all. He now gives himself shots every few weeks.

"I feel great and I feel very excited and I feel liberated," he said.

Dr. Bruce offered more information and advice:

"The maker of the new drug told us it may be approved within a few months. No one should stop their current medication without checking with their doctor first. But if it is necessary to discontinue statins this may represent a life saving option for many."

Contact Us