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Atherosclerosis. 2008 Apr;197(2):951-8. Epub 2007 Oct 30.

Early changes in arterial structure and function following statin initiation: quantification by magnetic resonance imaging.

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Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Oxford, United Kingdom.


Effective LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) reduction improves vascular function and can bring about regression of atherosclerosis. Alterations in endothelial function can occur rapidly, but changes in atherosclerosis are generally considered to occur more slowly. Vascular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a powerful technique for accurate non-invasive assessment of central and peripheral arteries at multiple anatomical sites. We report the changes in atherosclerosis burden and arterial function in response to open label statin treatment, in 24 statin-naïve newly diagnosed stable coronary artery disease patients. Patients underwent MRI before, and 3 and 12 months after commencing treatment. Mean LDL-C fell by 37% to 70.8 mg/dL (P<0.01). The plaque index (normalised vessel wall area) showed reductions in the aorta (2.3%, P<0.05) and carotid (3.1%, P<0.05) arteries at 3 months. Early reductions in atherosclerosis of aorta and carotid observed at 3 months were significantly correlated with later change at 12 months (R(2)=0.50, P<0.001; R(2)=0.22, P<0.05, respectively). Improvements in aortic distensibility and brachial endothelial function that were apparent after 3 months treatment were sustained at the 12-month time point.

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