Statins: Large Disparity Between US/Canadian/UK and European Guidelines Interview with:

Borge G. Nordestgaard,

Borge G. Nordestgaard

Børge G. Nordestgaard, MD, DMSc
Department of Clinical Biochemistry
Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, Copenhagen University Hospital
Herlev, Denmark What is the background for this study?

Response: Five major organizations recently published guidelines for using statins to prevent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease  — the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) in 2013, the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in 2014, and in 2016 the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS), the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), and the European Society of Cardiology/European Atherosclerosis Society (ESC/EAS). We applied these five guidelines to a contemporary study cohort of 45,750 40-75 year olds from the Copenhagen General Population Study.

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Frequent Take-Out Food Linked To Increased Cholesterol and Obesity in Children Interview with:

Dr. Angela S Donin Population Health Research Institute, St George’s University of London, London, UK

Dr. Donin

Dr. Angela S Donin
Population Health Research InstituteSt George’s
University of London
London, UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There are increasing numbers of takeaway outlets, particularly in deprived neighbourhoods. This is driving an increase in consumption of takeaway meals, which previous evidence has shown is linked to higher risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Little is known about the dietary and health impact of high consumption of takeaway foods in children.

This research found children who regularly ate takeaway meals had higher body fat and cholesterol compared to children who rarely ate take away meals, they also had overall poorer diet quality.

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Praluent May Reduce Need For Apheresis In Some Patients With Familial Hypercholesterolemia Interview with:

Dr. Jay Edelberg VP Head of CV Development and Head Global CV Medical Affairs

Dr. Edelberg

Dr. Jay Edelberg MD, PhD
VP Head of CV Development and
Head Global CV Medical Affairs
Sanofi What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Patients with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH) are often not able to achieve their target low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels, and some may require lipoprotein apheresis (LA) to lower their “bad cholesterol.” Apheresis is a procedure similar to kidney dialysis, where bad cholesterol is mechanically removed from the blood. It is an invasive, expensive, and time-consuming treatment for patients, as well as physicians.

The Phase III ESCAPE clinical study looked at the potential effect of LA on total Praluent, free and total PCSK9 concentrations, as well as the combined pharmacodynamics effect of total Praluent on LDL-C-lowering.

Praluent levels remained unaffected by apheresis, and Praluent consistently suppressed free PCSK9 levels in patients with HeFH, regardless of LA treatment. This analysis further confirms clinical ESCAPE data that Praluent can be used in conjunction with LA and may reduce or potentially eliminate the need for LA in some patients.

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Lack of Response to LDL-Lowering Praluent Rare Interview with:

Dr. Jay Edelberg VP Head of CV Development and Head Global CV Medical Affairs

Dr. Edelberg

Dr. Jay Edelberg MD, PhD
VP Head of CV Development and
Head Global CV Medical Affairs
Sanofi What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Clinical trials of lipid-lowering therapies (LLTs), including statins, often report variations in treatment response regarding effects on low density-lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels, although LDL-C reductions are fairly consistent between trials. Praluent is generally well tolerated, however hyporesponsiveness exists in few patients.

Potential causes for variation in patient responsiveness to Praluent include lack of receipt of active study drug, changes in concurrent LLTs, inaccurate or unrepresentative baseline lipid levels, concurrent acute-phase illness, and biological nonresponsiveness.

This analysis evaluated patients pooled from 10 ODYSSEY trials to assess characteristics of patients with hyporesponsiveness to Praluent, defined as <15% LDL-C reduction from baseline at all analyzed time points.

Overall, only 1% of patients (n=33) had <15% LDL-C reduction at all time points. Prolonged hyporesponsiveness to Praluent was rarely associated with Praluent antidrug antibodies. Of the 33 patients with <15% LDL-C reduction at all study timepoints, 27 had undetectable or missing alirocumab levels, absence of pharmacokinetics analyses, or early treatment discontinuation.

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Cellular Protein Nrf1 Protects Against Fatty Liver Interview with:

Gokhan S. Hotamisligil MD PhD

Dr. Hotamisligil

Gokhan S. Hotamisligil MD PhD
J.S. Simmons Professor of Genetics and Metabolism
Chair, Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases
Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases
Department of Nutrition
Harvard Stem Cell Institute What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Cholesterol is often considered a ‘bad’ nutrient, as it has been strongly linked to a cluster of metabolic diseases. In reality however, cholesterol is absolutely vital for the health of all animal cells, serves as an essential building block for all membranes and precursor for essential molecules.  It usually only becomes toxic when cells are exposed to high levels or free forms of cholesterol or when it is stored in excess.

The reasons why cholesterol over-accumulates or causes excessive damage in cells of some people is not entirely clear, as cells are normally should be able to remove such excesses, and there remains key mechanistic gaps in our understanding of how cells control the molecular process of sensing excess cholesterol, engage ways of removal and launch countermeasures to defend their integrity. Filling this gap may reveal a new path toward alleviating the burden of cholesterol-related diseases.

To this end, we identified a new signal pathway mediated by a protein called Nrf1, which enables cells to know when to remove cholesterol, thereby preventing excess cholesterol storage. We show that Nrf1 directly senses cholesterol in a strategic subcellular compartment called the endoplasmic reticulum and coordinates an adaptive and defensive responses that protects the cells and promotes the removal of cellular cholesterol. Continue reading

LPA Gene Variant May Help Identify Increased Risk of Aortic Stenosis Interview with:

Aortic Stenosis Blaus Image Wikipedia

Aortic Stenosis Blaus Image Wikipedia

Hao Yu Chen, MSc
Department of Medicine
McGill University
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Senior author: George Thanassoulis, MD, MSc What is the background for this study?

Response: Aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the main valve of the heart, is the most common type of valve disease in the US. Present in more than 2.5 million individuals in North America, aortic stenosis can lead to heart failure and death. However, there is little known about the causes of aortic stenosis and how it should be treated.

Previously, we have demonstrated that variants of the gene LPA are associated with the development of aortic stenosis. A better understanding of how this region contributes to aortic stenosis could identify higher-risk individuals and inform the development of new medical therapies for aortic stenosis.  Continue reading

Hormones Affect Carotid Plaque Stability and Stroke Vulnerability Interview with:

Marija Glisic Epidemiology, Erasmus MC

Marija Glisic

Marija Glisic
Epidemiology, Erasmus MC What is the background for this study?

Response: Carotid atherosclerosis is one of most important risk factors for developing stroke. Carotid atherosclerotic plaques characterized by lipid core presence and intraplaque haemorrhage are considered to be unstable, and therefore more prone to rupture and lead to consequent stroke. Sex differences have been observed in carotid plaque composition as well as in stroke incidence. Sex hormones, particularly estrogen and testosterone actions are suggested to underlie the observed sex differences in atherosclerosis. Experimental evidence suggests a direct action of estradiol and testosterone on the vascular system, affecting various mechanisms that may impact plaque composition and subsequently stroke risk.

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Study Finds ACE Inhibitors and Statins Can Be Safe In Type I Diabetes Interview with:
M. Loredana Marcovecchio, M.D.
Clinical Scientist and
Professor David Dunger M.D.
Director of Research
Professor of Paediatrics
University of Cambridge What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The efficacy and safety of ACE Inhibitors and statins in adolescents have been shown in the context of hypertension and familial hypercholesterolemia, respectively. However, there is a lack of data on the long-term use of these drugs in those with type 1 diabetes and, in particular, there is no clear indication for their use in patients with increased albumin excretion.

The Adolescent type 1 Diabetes cardio-renal Intervention Trial (AdDIT) was a multi-centre, international study, set up by investigators in the UK, Australia and Canada to explore if drugs already used to lower blood pressure (ACE inhibitors) and cholesterol levels (Statins) in adults with diabetes could reduce the risk of kidney, eye and cardiovascular disease in adolescents with Type 1 diabetes.

Neither ACE inhibitors nor statins significantly reduced the albumin-creatinine ratio during the 2-4 year trial period. However, some of the secondary outcomes suggest that the drugs may have important benefits.

Treatment with the ACE inhibitor resulted in a 43% reduction in the rates of progression to microalbuminuria, which was not statistically significant, but it could have important clinical implications. Preventing even intermittent cases of microalbuminuria is known to reduce the future risk of kidney and cardiovascular complications.

Statin therapy led to reduced levels of lipid levels, which could reduce long-term risk for cardiovascular complications.

These findings could translate into long-term benefits, but follow-up of this unique cohort will be essential. The essential biological samples and data provided by the participants will continue to inform our future understanding and our options for effective therapies for this vulnerable group of young people with type 1 diabetes.

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Praluent Plus Statins Reduce LDL In High Risk Cardiovascular Patients Interview with:

VP Head of Cardiovascular Development and Head Global Cardiovascular Medical Affairs Sanofi

Dr. Edelberg

Dr. Jay Edelberg MD, PhD
VP Head of Cardiovascular Development and
Head Global Cardiovascular Medical Affairs
Sanofi What should readers take away from the data that Sanofi and Regeneron is presenting at ESC Congress 2017?   

Response: This year at European Society of Cardiology (ESC,) we are pleased to present analyses that further demonstrate additional efficacy and tolerability of Praluent (alirocumab).

While statins remain the first-line treatment, Praluent has shown a consistent benefit as an additional therapy to high-intensity statins in patients with clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) and/or heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH), allowing many patients to achieve low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels previously considered unattainable in this patient population.

Our data further emphasize the need for additional cholesterol-lowering options in these high cardiovascular (CV) risk patient populations, including individuals living with diabetes 

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Positive Emotions Predict Health Lipid Profiles In Western, But Not Eastern Cultures Interview with:

Jiah Yoo Ph.D. Student in Social Psychology University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI 53706 

Jiah Yoo

Jiah Yoo
Ph.D. Student in Social Psychology
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706 What is the background for this study?

Response: A growing number of studies have shown that positive emotions predict better physical health. However, a caveat of these findings is that most studies have been conducted with Western samples. As cultural psychologists, we have learned that European American cultural contexts are particular in that positive emotions are highly valued and emphasized. For example, in East Asian cultures, it is a commonly shared view that positive emotions have some dark sides such as that they are fleeting, may attract unnecessary attention from others, and can be a distraction from focusing on important tasks. Given the cultural differences in emotions, we thought it would be important to test whether the established link between positive emotion and enhanced physical health are relevant to other cultural contexts, such as those in East Asia.

We focused on blood lipids profiles, one of the major risk factors for heart diseases, as objective measures of health. Because of the global prevalence of coronary artery diseases, blood lipids are considered important indices of biological health in many Western and East Asian countries. In addition, blood lipids are largely influenced by lifestyles and behavioral factors so we further tested the role of various health behaviors (i.e., dietary habits, body mass index, smoking, alcohol consumption) in the lipids-emotion link in different cultures.

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