Can’t Take Statins? There’s Another Choice for Lowering Cholesterol

By Morgan deBlecourt
March 07, 2023
Woman reading prescription bottle label at laptop

If you need to lower your cholesterol but cannot take a statin because of muscle aches or other side effects, you may want to try an alternative. New research shows that bempedoic acid can lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke without causing muscle pain. According to Duke cardiologist John H.P. Alexander, MD, MHS, “statins are the cornerstone of cardiovascular event prevention, but if you can’t take a statin, you now have another good option.” 

What are statins?

Statin medications are proven to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, by up to 50% and help prevent life-threatening heart problems. Statins are effective, accessible, and affordable. However, well-known side effects like muscle pain keep some people from taking them.

What is bempedoic acid?

There are a few LDL cholesterol-lowering alternatives on the market, including bempedoic acid. Results from a new study of more than 13,000 patients published in the New England Journal of Medicine proves that bempedoic acid’s cholesterol-reducing ability translates to fewer cardiovascular events, like heart attacks, strokes, coronary revascularization procedures, and deaths. Plus, since bempedoic acid is metabolized in the liver and not in the muscles, it causes fewer, if any, muscle-related side effects. 

Is bempedoic acid right for me?

Dr. Alexander warns against prematurely choosing bempedoic acid over statins. If you can tolerate a statin medication, even at a lower dose, you should, he said. But if side effects prevent you from taking a statin or an adequate dose of a statin, it’s better to take bempedoic acid or another cholesterol-lowering drug than nothing at all. 

“If you have vascular disease or are at high risk of vascular disease, it is important to work with your health care team on prevention,” Dr. Alexander said.  Talk to your doctor about which option is right for you.

Learn More About
Heart Disease Prevention