One of the most common treatments used to treat cardiovascular disease is statins. Though it is used as one of the treatment options but it can cause high triglyceride levels in the body. Despite working on the risk factors of cardiovascular disease, if in case anyone is experiencing high triglyceride levels in their body then they are more likely to develop stroke, heart attack, and other ischemic events.
According to a study conducted by the researchers at Baylor College of Medicine who are a part of the Reduction of Cardiovascular Events with Icosapent Ethyl-Intervention Trial (REDUCE-IT) a special treatment reduced the risks of developing cardiovascular diseases in the patients who continuously had a high amount of triglyceride levels in their body due to statin treatment. The study is published in the new edition of the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’.
Currently, the REDUCE-IT researchers are working on a highly purified eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) ethyl ester compound- icosapent ethyl. This compound is classified as an omega3 fatty acid and is purified version of fish oil. The aim of the study is to find out that whether this compound is helping the hypertriglyceridemia patients with cardio events who are on statin treatment or not.
“For the last three decades, we have focused on drugs that lower cholesterol to reduce cardiovascular events. Recent genetic studies have shown that triglycerides play an important role in heart disease, but we have not had outcome studies to test if adding another therapy to a statin would help individuals with high triglycerides and heart disease or diabetes,” says Dr. Christie Ballantyne, professor of medicine and chief of the sections of cardiology and cardiovascular research at Baylor.
This multicenter, double-blind study took more than 8,000 patients and followed them for six years. The half of the participants were given placebo while the other half was given 4 gram per daily dose of icosapent ethyl.
All the participants had some things in common like all were given statin treatment, had cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or any other triggering factor and also had higher triglyceride level or around 135mg/dL and less than 100mg/dL.
The study carried out had only one focus which was to study the clinical endpoints. In the primary endpoint, there was all over a 25% reduction in non-fatal stroke, cardiovascular death, unstable angina, myocardial infarction, and coronary revascularization. While as per the result the secondary endpoint showed approximately 26% reduction in nonfatal stroke, nonfatal myocardial infarction, and cardiovascular death.
“Our group has been studying omega 3 fatty acids for over 20 years and have been working on EPA for almost a decade,” says Dr. Christie Ballantyne, professor of medicine and chief of the sections of cardiology and cardiovascular research at Baylor.
“These results support the previous finding of a Japanese study, Japan EPA Lipid Intervention Study, which showed that EPA reduced cardiovascular events by 19 percent in individuals with high cholesterol on a low-dose of statin. However, low doses of a mixture of EPA and docosahexaenoic acid, another omega-3 fatty acid, have not shown benefit in reducing cardiovascular events.”
The next goal of the researchers is now to understand the mechanisms involved that aids in the reduction of the ischemic events when patients are treated with the combination of EPA and statin treatment. EPA is known to have many biological functions in addition to its effect on lipids.