Drugs to Reduce Heart Attacks and Strokes


Millions of Americans take drugs to lower their levels of LDL or the bad cholesterol to bring down their risk for heart attack and stroke.

But there are no treatments to reverse the built-up of LDL in blood vessels that lead to heart disease. That's why there's excitement about a study that shows a drug can undo a sizeable amount of the buildup.

It's high levels of LDL in the blood and its oxidation that lead to cholesterol deposits in blood vessels. That triggers a series of events including inflammation.

Inflammation attracts immune cells that take up fats and cholesterol. Then when these and other substances pile up, they form plaques which narrow the blood vessels. The plaque can also break off and cause a heart attack or stroke.

Now, scientists are focusing on a drug that's already used for a rare disease involving a cell structure called the lysosome. It's called Cysteamine and scientists targeted the drug since plaque is partially triggered by oxidation of cholesterol that occurs in lysosomes.

They had hoped the drug might slow or stop the worsening of plaque but were surprised when it reversed the process. In a study, mice treated with cysteamine had between a third and over fifty percent reduction in plaques.

There were also fewer immune cells which means less inflammation. Factors that stabilize plaques making them less likely to rupture, like the presence of smooth muscle cells, were up by 85%.

Scientists are now looking for the best way to deliver the drug so that they can move on to clinical trials in people.

You can now hear additional episodes on many of your favorite podcast providers - visit Buzzsprout to subscribe.

More Information

Cysteamine Decreases Low-Density Lipoprotein Oxidation, Causes Regression of Atherosclerosis, and Improves Liver and Muscle Function in Low-Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Deficient Mice
We have shown previously that low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can be oxidized in the lysosomes of macrophages, that this oxidation can be inhibited by cysteamine, an antioxidant that accumulates in lysosomes, and that this drug decreases atherosclerosis in LDL receptor-deficient mice fed a high-fat diet. We have now performed a regression study with cysteamine, which is of more relevance to the treatment of human disease...

Groundbreaking drug could prevent heart attacks and strokes
An antioxidant drug reverses atherosclerosis and could be used to prevent heart attacks and strokes due to clots, according to research funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and published in JAHA: Journal of the American Heart Association...