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Int J Angiol. 2011 Dec;20(4):213-22. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1295520.

Atherosclerosis: current status of prevention and treatment.

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Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Gill Heart Institute, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky.


The reality of regression of atherosclerotic plaques was established as long ago as 1987 by aggressive cholesterol reduction even before the era of statin therapy. Nevertheless, the most important aspect of patient benefit to prevent cardiovascular (CV) disease events is stabilization of these plaques so they will not rupture. Lowering of low-density lipoproteins is critical to this goal and can be considered the gold standard of preventive CV medicine. The major goal for the high-risk patient and the diabetic patient is lowering these harmful lipoproteins to less than 70 mg/dL. No discussion of CV disease prevention is complete without considering tobacco abuse and its elimination. Even secondhand smoke has been established as harmful. Control of hypertension is another major aspect of CV disease prevention, and a blood pressure less than 120/80 mm Hg is ideal. With obesity a major problem in the developed world, its role in the metabolic syndrome is of major significance as is the high prevalence of this so-called syndrome versus collection of specific risk factors in a population with poor health habits. Control of diabetes mellitus has established benefit from the standpoint of CV disease prevention except that some problems have been reported with extremely tight blood sugar control. Exercise was long considered good but now there are evidence-based reasons to recommend it as essential in CV disease prevention. There are many unforeseen frontiers in CV disease prevention but, for now, everything points to elevation of high-density lipoproteins as the next focus of this prevention.


Atherosclerosis; cholesterol; coronary heart disease; peripheral vascular disease; statins

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