Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Strong statin therapy reverses plaque build-up in arteries


Reducing bad cholesterol to below "optimal" levels reversed the accumulation of artery-clogging plaque, according to a study in today’s rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. When atherosclerotic plaque builds up in the arteries it can cause a heart attack or stroke.

People with known heart disease or a major risk factor, such as diabetes, are counseled to reduce their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) below 100 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) of blood. The goal for patients whose only risk factor is high cholesterol is usually below 130 mg/dL. Statin drugs are commonly used to lower total and LDL cholesterol.

There has been some question recently, however, whether more aggressive LDL lowering would confer an even greater benefit, says lead author Allen J. Taylor, M.D., director of cardiovascular research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

In addition, there is a question of whether factors besides cholesterol-lowering figure into the overall benefit from statin therapy. Besides affecting cholesterol, statins may also affect levels of inflammation or the degree of artery thickening.

"This is the first comparison of two statin drugs in a general population that looked at more than their cholesterol-lowering abilities," says Taylor.

Researchers recruited 161 patients (average age 60, 71 percent men) who were candidates for statin therapy. About half had known cardiovascular disease. Of these patients, 138 completed the study in which they received either 40 milligrams (mg) of the natural drug pravastatin, or 80 mg of relatively new synthetic statin called atorvastatin.

After 12 months, those receiving pravastatin treatment had a 27.5 percent drop in their LDL cholesterol compared to a 48.5 percent reduction in LDL for people treated with the higher dose of atorvastatin. The pravastatin group’s LDL was reduced to 110 mg/dL while the atorvastatin group’s LDL level was 76 mg/dL.

Researchers used ultrasound to compare the thickness of the carotid arteries (major arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain) before treatment, after six months, and after one year of therapy. The amount of plaque in the carotid arteries is considered a good indicator of the amount of atherosclerosis throughout the body.

The researchers found that many patients had a net decrease in carotid artery thickness – 54 percent of atorvastatin patients and 39 percent of pravastatin patients.

Patients who received moderate treatment with pravastatin showed a slight progression in the thickness of the atherosclerosis in their carotid arteries (from an average of .615 mm at baseline to an average of .640 mm thickness at 12 months). Those who received atorvastatin treatment had a decrease (from an average of .625 mm to an average of .591 mm).

"Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease that takes years to develop and continues to get worse over time unless treated," Taylor explains. "Previous studies found that patients in whom plaque stabilized – or stopped progressing – had the lowest risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular disease problems. In general, past studies have shown that regression is uncommon."

"We need to carefully define at what point lower LDL values have the greatest benefit in lowering the risk of heart disease. This study would suggest that LDL values much lower than 100 mg/dL appears better than a value of around 100," he says.

In an accompanying editorial, Prediman K. Shah, M.D., director of the division of cardiology and atherosclerosis research center at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif., says, "The data provided by Taylor are of potential interest and could have significant implications for clinical practice. However, before we conclude that more LDL-lowering means less atherosclerosis progression or clinical events, more in depth research is necessary."

Shah points to several large scale trials that are measuring the effect of moderate vs. aggressive cholesterol lowering on coronary plaque and cardiac events that should provide additional valuable information in the near future.

Co-authors include Steven M. Kent, M.D.; Patrick J. Flaherty, D.O.; Louis C. Coyle, D.O.; Thor T. Markwood M.D.; and Marina N. Vernalis, D.O.

CONTACT: For journal copies only,
please call: (214) 706-1396
For other information, call:
Carole Bullock: (214) 706-1279
Bridgette McNeill: (214) 706-1135

Carole Bullock | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>