Understanding cholesterol management is crucial for maintaining heart health. While statins have long been the mainstay treatment for high cholesterol, a newer class of drugs – PCSK9 inhibitors – could revolutionize how we manage cholesterol levels in people with cardiovascular disease (CVD) or who are at high risk for CVD. This article provides an in-depth look at PCSK9 inhibitors, their role in the body, their relationship with statins, and their place in comprehensive cholesterol management.
Unraveling PCSK9 Inhibitors
Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) inhibitors (Alirocumab (Praluent®). Evolocumab (Repatha®), are a class of medications that lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), often termed “bad cholesterol”. They work by blocking the PCSK9 protein, which plays a role in regulating LDL cholesterol levels in your body.
In a healthy state, the liver produces LDL receptors that bind to LDL cholesterol and remove it from your bloodstream. After these receptors fulfill their role, they typically recycle back to the liver’s surface to continue their LDL-clearing work. However, the PCSK9 protein binds to these LDL receptors and leads them to be destroyed, lowering the number of active LDL receptors and resulting in higher LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.
PCSK9 inhibitors block this protein, leading to a higher number of active LDL receptors on the liver’s surface and consequently, a lower level of LDL cholesterol in the blood.
When and Why to Use PCSK9 Inhibitors
PCSK9 inhibitors are FDA-approved for use in adults with CVD or at high risk of CVD and in adults (and, in some cases, children over 10 years of age) with familial hypercholesterolemia. These injectable medications are primarily used in two scenarios:
1. When statins alone are not sufficient in achieving target LDL levels.
2. In cases where patients are intolerant of or have contraindications to statins.
PCSK9 inhibitors can significantly lower LDL levels, reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and coronary revascularization procedures. Importantly, PCSK9 inhibitors also reduce Lipoprotein(a), a genetic risk factor for heart disease that’s not effectively lowered by lifestyle changes or statins.
The Relationship Between Statins and PCSK9 Inhibitors
Statins work by a different mechanism than PCSK9 inhibitors, primarily by reducing cholesterol production within the liver. Interestingly, statin use can lead to an increase in PCSK9 protein levels, which can somewhat counteract the LDL-lowering effect of statins.
In such a scenario, the use of a PCSK9 inhibitor can provide added benefit by blocking the PCSK9 protein, thus enhancing the overall LDL reduction. This combination strategy can be particularly beneficial in patients with very high cholesterol levels or those at high risk of cardiovascular events.
Understanding Your Cholesterol
While PCSK9 inhibitors offer exciting possibilities in cholesterol management, the cornerstone of heart health is understanding your unique cholesterol profile. Cue’s Heart Health Panel and Cardiac Risk Apo A+B Test provide a comprehensive assessment of your cholesterol levels, including LDL, HDL, total triglycerides, and lipoprotein (a) (Lp(a)).
PCSK9 inhibitors have opened new avenues in the fight against high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. With ongoing advances in healthcare technology, including those provided by Cue, you have more power than ever to understand and manage your cholesterol effectively. Stay informed, stay healthy!
This information is presented in summary form, general in nature, and for informational purposes only. Content is not intended nor recommended to substitute for professional medical advice. For personal medical advice, always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. The tests offered are subject to change and subject to availability. Due to state restrictions, this Cue Product is not available for individuals located in the state of New York. Other state restrictions may apply for specific tests. Please refer to our support page for detailed product terms and conditions.