These may help when statins and lifestyle changes aren’t enough.
High cholesterol doesn’t cause symptoms, but treatment is still crucial. That’s because high cholesterol increases the risk of a heart attack. For many patients, a statin is the first-line medication to reduce heart attack risk. Others may need additional medications. One of those options to reduce the risk of a heart attack is a class called biologics.
Biologics are treatments that target specific substances in the body that fuel a disease. Because they are so targeted, they often work very effectively and have fewer or more tolerable side effects. The biologics to reduce heart attack risk are called PCSK9 inhibitors.
How Biologics Reduce Heart Attack Risk
PCSK9 inhibitors bind to and turn off a protein in the liver called the PCSK9 protein. When someone has high levels of this protein, they tend to have higher LDL (bad) cholesterol. This makes them more likely to have a heart attack.
These biologics can block those proteins, which helps lower levels of LDL cholesterol and reduce heart attack risk. Doctors may prescribe PCSK9 inhibitors for people who have not been able to lower cholesterol levels enough with lifestyle changes and statins.
Other Ways Biologics Can Help
Biologic treatments can help treat a number of conditions. For example, they can help treat autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic disease, and lupus.
This is important because many of these autoimmune conditions increase the risk of heart problems. That’s because autoimmune diseases can cause chronic inflammation that may affect other parts of the body, including the heart.
Biologic treatments for these diseases can help get inflammation under control. This will not only help treat their autoimmune disease and symptoms, but it may also help prevent complications and heart attack risk.
Biologics aren’t the only way to treat heart problems. Learn more about how to prevent a heart attack here.
Eugenia Gianos, MD, is a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health.