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FORT WORTH – Texas â?? A cholesterol-lowering medication is being studied at the UNT Health Science Center and researchers are seeking patients who have evidence of vascular disease and an LDL cholesterol level of greater than 160 mg/d to enroll in the study.

The study medication, which is a type of statin, is currently not available through physicians or pharmacies. According to Dr. Michael Clearfield, chief of internal medicine and primary investigator for the study, the purpose of the study is to test this new medicine against the strongest cholesterol-lowering drug currently available. Researchers hope this new statin will be more effective in lowering cholesterol. Dr. Martin Weiss, cardiologist with the health science center, is also a co-investigator.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance in the body which, in high levels, is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Extra cholesterol in the blood collects in the inner walls of the arteries, allowing less blood to get to the heart.

According to Dr. Clearfield, the higher your total cholesterol number, the higher the risk for heart disease. In this study those with an LDL cholesterol of over 160 mg/dl are being sought. Most people with an LDL over 160 mg/dl would expect to have a total cholesterol over 220 mg/dl.

Cholesterol travels in the blood in packages called lipoproteins. Cholesterol packaged in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is often called “bad” cholesterol, because too much LDL in blood can lead to cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries. An LDL level of 100 mg/dL or lower is desirable for people with vascular disease, such as those in this study.

The study is being conducted in over 30 centers in the United States. Health science center researchers will be seeking study participants for several months.

All research study-related medication, tests and exams will be provided free of charge. In many cases, volunteers are compensated for their time and travel expenses. Those interested can discuss clinical research participation with their doctor and call the Office of Clinical Trials at (817) 735-0256.

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