Is Atherosclerosis Regression a Realistic Goal of Statin Therapy and What Does That Mean?
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- Singh, M. & Bedi, U.S. Curr Atheroscler Rep (2013) 15: 294. doi:10.1007/s11883-012-0294-4
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Atherosclerosis is a complex disease associated with aberrant lipoprotein metabolism and leukocyte infiltration into arterial tissue that leads to cardiovascular diseases. Statins have emerged as among the most effective means of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in both primary and secondary prevention settings. Statins are the only pharmacological agents that have been consistently shown to have antiatherosclerotic effects. Statins slow atherosclerosis progression and can even induce atherosclerosis regression. Technological advances in imaging modalities to assess atherosclerosis have made possible direct visualization of atherosclerotic plaques and estimation of plaque burden and permit the evaluation of the impact of medical therapies on the natural history of plaque progression. However, owing to several limiting factors as discussed in this review, presently atherosclerotic plaque progression cannot be used as a therapeutic goal for reduction of the risk of cardiovascular disease. In this review we discuss the evidence for the use of imaging modalities in the detection of atherosclerotic plaque regression, the effects of statins on the atherosclerotic process, and the clinical relevance of atherosclerosis regression.