FDA approves new medication to reduce cardiovascular health risks

(WZAW) -- The FDA just approved a new medication that can reduce the persistent cardiovascular risk that millions of patients face.

Cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, is the number one cause of death in men and women. These events occur in the United States every 14 seconds and are economically, physically and emotionally costly.

Approximately 12 million Americans could benefit from the new medication, called Vascepa, also known as the generic, icosapent ethyl.

Dr. Deepak Bhatt, executive director of Interventional Cardiovascular Programs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, joined the Deep Bench on Thursday. He said even though there are a lot of great advances and treatments for cardiovascular disease in the past couple decades, it still remains the biggest killer of men and women.

In a study, people with high triglyceride levels were given either the new medication or a placebo.

"What we found was a 30% reduction in the risk of things like heart attack, or stroke or dying from those causes in people who got this prescription medicine," he explained.

That means, researchers discovered that elevated triglyceride levels are yet another risk factor for cardiovascular disease, along with high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

"That means millions of Americans that might benefit from this therapy," he added.

Dr. Deepak said the next step people should do is to know their triglyceride levels, just like they know their cholesterol levels. He said if you find you do have high triglyceride levels, talk to your primary care physician, as you may be eligible for this new medication.