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N Engl J Med. 1995 Feb 23;332(8):481-7.

Beneficial effects of cholesterol-lowering therapy on the coronary endothelium in patients with coronary artery disease.

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1
Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Impaired endothelium-mediated relaxation contributes to vasospasm and myocardial ischemia in patients with coronary artery disease. We hypothesized that cholesterol-lowering therapy with the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitor lovastatin could improve endothelium-mediated responses in patients with coronary atherosclerosis.

METHODS:

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we studied coronary endothelial responses in 23 patients randomly assigned to either lovastatin (40 mg twice daily; 11 patients) or placebo (12 patients) plus a lipid-lowering diet (American Heart Association Step 1 diet). Patients were studied 12 days after randomization and again at 5 1/2 months. These patients had total cholesterol levels ranging from 160 to 300 mg per deciliter (4.1 to 7.8 mmol per liter) and were undergoing coronary angioplasty. At the initial and follow-up studies, patients received serial intracoronary infusions (in a coronary artery not undergoing angioplasty) of acetylcholine to assess endothelium-mediated vasodilatation. The responses of the coronary vessels were analyzed with quantitative angiography.

RESULTS:

The patients in the placebo and lovastatin groups had similar responses to acetylcholine at a mean of 12 days of therapy (expressed as the percentage of change in diameter in response to acetylcholine doses of 10(-9) M, 10(-8) M, 10(-7) M, and 10(-6) M). In the placebo group, the respective mean (+/- SE) changes were 1 +/- 2, 0 +/- 2, -2 +/- 4, and -19 +/- 4 percent; in the lovastatin group, they were -2 +/- 2, -4 +/- 4, -12 +/- 5, and -16 +/- 7 percent (P = 0.32). (Coronary-artery constriction is reflected by negative numbers). The responses to acetylcholine in the placebo group after a mean of 5.5 months of therapy were -3 +/- 3, -1 +/- 2, -8 +/- 4, and -18 +/- 5 percent, respectively; there was significant improvement in the lovastatin group, which had responses of 3 +/- 3, 3 +/- 3, 0 +/- 2, and 0 +/- 3 percent (P = 0.004).

CONCLUSIONS:

Cholesterol lowering with lovastatin significantly improved endothelium-mediated responses in the coronary arteries of patients with atherosclerosis. Such improvement in the local regulation of coronary arterial tone could potentially relieve ischemic symptoms and signal the stabilization of the atherosclerotic plaque.

PMID:
7830728
DOI:
10.1056/NEJM199502233320801
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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