(December 28, 2011 - Insidermedicine)
Taking maximal doses of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins can actually help reverse signs of cardiovascular disease, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Here is some information about atherosclerosis:
• It is a hardening of the arteries associated with cardiovascular disease
• It occurs when fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up inside the arteries, forming hard structures called plaques
• This buildup makes the arteries stiffer and makes it more difficult for blood to flow freely through them
Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic used ultrasound to determine the degree of atherosclerosis among more than 1,000 patients with coronary disease. The patients were then randomly assigned to take maximum doses of the statin drugs atorvastatin or rosuvastatin. After two years of this treatment, the investigators assessed their degree of atherosclerosis a second time.
Both drugs helped reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels and increase HDL or “good cholesterol” levels, but rosuvastatin did so a little more effectively than atorvastatin. Both agents also reduced two signs of atherosclerosis in the majority of patients – the percent and total volume of atherosclerotic matter in the arteries. Once again, however, the average reduction in the percent volume of atherosclerotic matter was slightly more pronounced in those taking rosuvastatin.
Today’s research demonstrates that not only can statin drugs slow the progression of cardiovascular disease but they can also help reverse the condition once it has taken hold. This suggests that such drugs may help prevent heart attacks and strokes from occurring for the first time in patients with established cardiovascular disease.