A new finding by scientists showing how the immune system reduces cholesterol levels could lead to heart pills as good as statins without its potentially dangerous side-effects.
A discovery by British scientists could lead to improved and new heart-protecting treatments. Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have shown that cholesterol levels are suppressed by the body's immune system as part of the process that fights off viral infections.
"We have identified the immune�hormone that does this. Statins are effective but crude drugs," Professor Peter Ghazal, leader of the research team, said. "This discovery gives the ability to be a little more refined and by being a lot more subtle in how to control the production of cholesterol you can prevent a lot of these adverse side-effects," Ghazal said.
Statins have been hailed as a wonder drug for reducing the harmful blood fat that furs up arteries triggering tens of �thousands of heart attacks and strokes that kill 150,000 people every year in Britain, the 'Daily Express' reported.
But there is evidence that some of the seven million people who take the daily heart pills can �suffer side-effects ranging from muscle aches and tummy upsets to a rare but serious lung �disorder, as well as diabetes.
And for about one in four people, statins do not reduce their cholesterol to a safe level because they do not work or patients cut the dose or stop taking them.Experts believe the benefits of taking the tablets, that can cost very little, far outweigh any potential risks. There have even been calls for everyone over the age of 50 to get them.
"Controlling cholesterol is vital for our health," researcher Dr Steven Watterson said. "Each year cardiovascular disease is responsible for 17 million deaths worldwide. Cholesterol is a known risk factor," he said.
The new study is published in the journal Biochimie. PTI