PCSK9 Inhibitors: A Promising New Drug for Treating High Cholesterol
For years, statins were the go-to prescription medication for treating high cholesterol. These medications work by blocking an enzyme in your liver needed to produce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, thereby lowering a person’s risk of heart attack or stroke. However, as anyone who has taken statins knows, this potentially life-saving medication is not without its side effects. People on statins commonly experience muscle soreness, stomach issues, memory loss, and high blood sugar levels. For others, statins simply have no effect.
Today, patients with high cholesterol can now benefit from PCSK9 inhibitors, a class of drugs first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015. In this article, we discuss PCSK9 Inhibitors and their efficacy in treating high cholesterol. For a heart specialist in Tampa who will test your cholesterol and help you decide if this medication is right for you, consult Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC.
How Do PCSK9 Inhibitors Work?
As opposed to statins, which are taken in pill form and block HMG-CoA reductase, PCSK9 inhibitors are taken through an injection and work by targeting a protein in the liver called proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9). By inactivating PCSK9, this drug allows the liver to better remove LDL from the blood. This drug can be taken with or instead of statins and has been shown to be quite effective at lowering cholesterol levels in certain individuals. However, as with all prescription medications, PCSK9 inhibitors are not without considerations that must be taken into account, which is why it’s important to discuss this topic with a trained heart specialist in Tampa.
Are PCSK9 Inhibitors Right for You?
First, PCSK9 inhibitors will likely only be prescribed in the event that a patient has extremely high cholesterol levels, a high risk of a cardiovascular event, or cholesterol levels that are unresponsive to other medications. Another concern is the cost; PCSK9 inhibitors are significantly more expensive than statins because there are no generic brands available as of the time of this writing. Depending on your condition, your insurance may or may not cover the cost of PCSK9 inhibitors. Finally, people who take PCSK9 inhibitors can still experience mild to severe side effects, such as muscle pain, lethargy, diabetes, liver and kidney issues, and dementia.
Consult Your Doctor About Taking PCSK9 Inhibitors
The risk of side effects should not deter you from seeking heart care in Tampa for high levels of cholesterol. While there is no long-term data available on its safety, PCSK9 inhibitors have been shown to be very effective for treating high cholesterol. Deciding whether or not PCSK9 inhibitors are right for you is a decision that should be reached with the aid of a board-certified heart doctor.
As an advocate for preventative measures, Dr. Popat prefers to explore all options with patients before prescribing medications. In many cases, a healthy lifestyle is all that’s needed to mitigate high levels of cholesterol. If you are a candidate for PCSK9 inhibitors, Dr. Popat can carefully monitor your condition and ensure that serious side effects are avoided. If your high cholesterol is unresponsive to statins, or you would like to explore other options, schedule an appointment for heart care in Tampa with Dr. Popat today.
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