The pharmacology of cholesterol-lowering drugs

The pharmacology of cholesterol-lowering drugs

Christie M. Ballantyne
Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA
Alberico L. Catapano
Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Milan, Milan, Italy


The causal role of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol LDL-C in atherosclerotic-related cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) has been undoubtedly established over the last decades, and lowering plasma LDL-C levels represents the main approach to reduce the risk of cardiovascular (CV) events. A large number of observations has definitely proven that the protective effect is independent of the drug used to lower LDL-C, with a continuous linear reduction of CV risk with further LDL-C reductions. Although high-intensity statin therapy may significantly reduce CV event incidence, frequently statins are insufficient to achieve the large reductions recommended by current guidelines for high and very high risk patients.
Several non-statin drugs, having mechanisms of action complementary to that of statins, are now available, and include ezetimibe, monoclonal antibodies targeting PCSK9, and, more recently, inclisiran, bempedoic acid, and evinacumab. Combining these drugs based on the recommendations by current and future guidelines should be considered for optimal risk reduction, although several gaps in clinical practice remain to be filled.


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