Health Beat: Treating out-of-control cholesterol
A new drug that just hit the market may help some of the millions of Americans who struggle with high cholesterol.
The American Heart Association recommends you keep your LDL, or bad, cholesterol below 100 to avoid heart attacks and strokes, but for some people, no matter what they do, their numbers are high.
Take Wenter Blair for example. She suffers from an inherited condition called HoFH. Her body cannot remove the bad cholesterol from her blood.
Blair's LDL levels are usually around 350, well above the desired 100 or lower.
"Every night I go to bed fearful that it might be my last night," said Blair, who had three heart attacks before she was 43. "I know I don’t have it under control, and it scares the living crud out of me."
Kynamro was recently approved by the FDA to treat HoFH.
It's "a technology that’s been in development for 30 years and this is the first real breakthrough in that technology," explained Paula Soteropoulos, general manager for the Genzyme Corporation.
Developed in part by Genzyme, the once-a-week injection is designed to stop the production of cholesterol.
A clinical trial found that, on average, patients taking Kynamro saw their LDL levels drop 25 percent.
"This is getting them to levels they have never seen before," said Soteropoulos.
Blair said now, with the drug, she has a better picture of what her future could be.
"I want to live a really long time and without them [the drugs], I won’t see the longevity that I so crave," Blair said.
Kynamro is not a replacement for a patient’s HoFH medications. It’s designed to be in addition to those. The FDA reports the most serious risk of Kynamro is liver toxicity. Other side effects include nausea, headache and flu-like symptoms.
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