A new drug has been identified as a good “alternative to statins” for reducing the risk of heart attacks and lowering cholesterol, latest research demonstrates.

The drug Nexletol helps to prevent the development of cardiovascular complications and cholesterol-caused health problems in those unable to take statins, academics have said.

Traditionally, statins are prescribed to treat high cholesterol; however, the negative side effects of these pills mean that millions are not able or will refuse to take the drugs.

Chemically known as bempedoic acid, Nexletol offers the same protection as statins do, the research has reported.

Top author Dr Steven Nissen said: “Statins remain the cornerstone of cholesterol-lowering therapies. But people who can’t take those proven pills are very needy patients, they’re extremely difficult to treat. This option will have a huge impact on public health.”

A high amount of LDL cholesterol can trigger heart attacks and strokes due to it blocking the arteries.

The statin pills Crestor and Lipitor prevent the development of cardiovascular disease by stopping the liver from producing LDL cholesterol.

According to the study, 10% of people who have cholesterol problems cannot or will not take statins, with some of these individuals experiencing severe muscle pain as a result of taking these drugs.

Nexletol also prevents the production of cholesterol in the liver without causing muscle pain to the person taking the drug, the research has revealed.

During the study, the team of scientists reviewed the health of approximately 14,000 participants who were unable to have a high dose of statins.

The participants were split into two groups, with one half taking a daily Nexletol and the other half taking a daily dummy pill.

The results show that the participants taking a daily Nexletol were 23% less at risk of having a heart attack.

In addition, they reveal that a daily Nexletol prevents 19% of procedures used to unblock arteries.

Dr John H. Alexander, who was not involved within the study, has branded the findings as “compelling”.

He said: “They will and should spur use of the drug by people unwilling or unable to take statins.

“It is premature, however, to consider bempedoic acid as an alternative to statins. Given the overwhelming evidence of the vascular benefits, statins remain the top choice for most people.”

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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