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Arterioscler Thromb. 1994 Nov;14(11):1723-9.

Atherosclerotic plaque evolution in the descending thoracic aorta in familial hypercholesterolemic patients. A transesophageal echo study.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Evanston Hospital, Ill.


We explored the concept that transesophageal echocardiography can be used as a tool to detect, characterize, and study plaque morphology in the descending thoracic aorta. The pattern of atherosclerotic plaques in the descending thoracic aorta in familial hypercholesterolemic (FH) patients was evaluated. Additionally, evolution of plaque characteristics as a result of therapy was analyzed. In a randomized prospective protocol, eight FH patients (five men and three women, aged 23 to 65 years [mean +/- SD, 42 +/- 14 years]) receiving standard therapy (n = 3; baseline low-density lipoprotein [LDL] cholesterol, 222 +/- 71 mg/dL, mean +/- SD) or LDL apheresis (n = 5; baseline LDL cholesterol, 262 +/- 51 mg/dL) were studied. Baseline and follow-up (mean, 12 months) transesophageal echocardiographic studies were performed. Measurements obtained were atherosclerotic plaque area (PA), aortic wall area (WA), total arterial area (TAA), and plaque-to-wall area ratio (PWR). LDL cholesterol decreased in both groups. The greatest severity of plaque was detected at 30 to 35 cm from the incisors (approximately 15 to 20 cm from the aortic arch). The smallest plaques were present at the arch and more distal descending aorta. In the control group, TAA, PA, and PWR did not change significantly (P = NS versus baseline). In the LDL-apheresis group, TAA increased (P < .05 versus baseline), PA decreased in three of five patients (P = NS versus baseline), and PWR fell (P < .05 versus baseline).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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