A new drug is being tested to find out if it can drive down the risk of heart attacks and deaths from heart disease. It centers on the good and bad cholesterol in your body and the international study is using patients from Southwest Louisiana.
In the first of its kind clinical trial, cardiologist Dr. Richard Gilmore with the Imperial Calcasieu Medical Group is leading the local charge to find out if the way cholesterol is treated can be revolutionized. "We've never been able to manipulate HDL very well, but the new medication studied in this trial dramatically increases the HDL cholesterol," said Dr. Gilmore.
There are two types of cholesterol: LDL, the bad type that can clog arteries - and HDL, the good type that helps suck out the bad cholesterol and redirect it. "HDL, the good cholesterol, actually has kind of a vacuum-cleaner like mechanism that sucks out cholesterol from the blood vessel wall and returns it to the liver," said Dr. Gilmore.
Dr. Gilmore was drawn to the international REVEAL-HPS3/TIMI 55 clinical trial because the drug being used can raise the good cholesterol and lower the bad, something that has never happened before, and something he says could keep heart disease patients from having recurring problems. "I'm excited about the prospect of actually stopping this disease process," said Dr. Gilmore, "rather than putting stents in or doing bypass surgeries to treat the end stage disease."
30,000 men and women over age 50 with circulatory disease are part of the trial, including 19 from Southwest Louisiana. DeAnne Winey-Ward is the clinical research manager with the ICMG. She says the patients selected for the REVEAL clinical trial take two pills each day and have several follow-up appointments. "We are following the patients for four years and they're seen six times throughout each year," said Winey-Ward.
Each patient is given a statin drug to control the bad cholesterol and half will either get the new drug to raise the good cholesterol, or a placebo. While nothing is guaranteed in a clinical trial, the results since the trial started last fall have been good - raising HDL by nearly 140 percent and lowering LDL by 40-percent. "Hopefully we can reduce the risk of subsequent heart attacks, strokes and those types of bad processes that occur with people with vascular disease," said Dr. Gilmore.
That is something this research team hopes to build on as they use local knowledge and patients in this worldwide clinical trial. "This gives us our knowledge to improve on other therapies and offer other alternatives to patients," said Winey-Ward.
The Imperial Calcasieu Medical Group is currently conducting a wide variety of drug, device, and procedure studies. For more information on how you might become a participant, call the research department at 337-312-8204.