Intensive Statin Therapy Can Reverse Coronary Artery Disease

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Treating Heart Disease

Study notes several groundbreaking firsts in research of cholesterol-lowering drugs

A Cleveland Clinic-led study has found that intensive use of statins, the most commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs, can reverse the build-up of plaque in coronary arteries. Previous studies have shown only a slowing or halting of the progression of coronary disease, but never regression or reversal.

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Atherosclerosis, the most common cause of heart disease and death, involves the build-up of fat, calcium and other deposits in the coronary arteries. Removing these deposits has been a difficult challenge for drug-therapy in patients with heart disease.

"These findings suggest that maximizing the use of statins to lower cholesterol levels in patients with heart disease can substantially reduce plaque burden, an outcome previously thought unattainable," said Steven Nissen, M.D., the study's lead author and interim Chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Department of Cardiovascular Medicine. "These results also imply that the goal of statin treatment in coronary disease patients should be the maximum cholesterol reduction that can be achieved safely, rather than an arbitrary target level."

Complete results for ASTEROID (A Study to Evaluate the Effect of Rosuvastatin On Intravascular Ultrasound-Derived Coronary Atheroma Burden) will be presented at the 55th Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) in Atlanta on March 13 and simultaneously published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In their work, researchers found that high doses of rosuvastatin, trade name Crestor

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