“There have been exciting new developments in drug treatment options for hypercholesterolemia,” Dr. Foale said. Patients are now being offered an alternative drug to statins, known as PCSK9 inhibitors. “Currently, the drug is given as an injection, rather than as tablets like statins,” Dr. Foale said.
Although “still limited in availability”, specialist cardiologists, like him, are able to prescribe PCSK9 inhibitors.
The cholesterol-lowering drug works best in tandem with healthy lifestyle measures – the kind that are recommended when patients are offered statins.
“Statins are the current standard of treatment,” Dr. Foale added. “In most cases, statins will be taken for life.”
He cautioned: “Getting rid of it completely is known to greatly increase an individual’s risk of experiencing another cardiovascular event (i.e. heart attack or stroke). “
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Dr. Foale’s best advice when it comes to lowering cholesterol levels is to eat healthy and exercise.
“High fat foods and processed foods are high in saturated fat, which means they contain high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL),” Dr. Foale began.
LDL, he explained, is “the bad cholesterol because high amounts of it in the blood can cause blockages in the arteries and increase the risk of heart problems or stroke.”
“You should try to reduce your intake of fatty foods, such as red meat (eg sausages), whole dairy products and processed foods like cookies and cakes.”
“Clogged arteries (aka plaques) can cause dangerous blockages and put you at risk of a heart attack or stroke.
“Quitting smoking will lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol and increase your ‘good’ cholesterol, which will help slow plaque buildup and reduce your risk of heart disease. »
As for alcohol consumption, it “raises the level of triglycerides” in the blood, in addition to cholesterol.
Dr Rodney Foale is a consultant cardiologist at the Harley Street Clinic (part of HCA Healthcare UK), which offers PCSK9 inhibitors to help lower cholesterol levels.