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Drug development and evaluation of treatments used in heart disease - The effect of cholesterol-lowering treatments on the levels of calcium in the coronary arteries (The EBEAT study sponsored by Pfizer UK)

Cholesterol (lipid) -lowering drugs are now standard treatment for heart disease. The main type of drugs now used to reduce high blood cholesterol levels are the statins. It has recently been suggested that intensive treatment with statins is more beneficial than the current standard treatment. The progression of heart disease can now be followed by monitoring increasing levels in coronary artery calcification. The effect of cholesterol-lowering drugs on the levels coronary artery calcium has not been previously studied.

We have recently carried out a study investigating the effects of altering statin (Atorvastatin) dosage on the levels coronary artery calcification. Using Electron Beam CT (EBCT) heart scanning, levels of coronary artery calcification were scored in patients receiving different doses of Atorvastatin. Increasing Atorvastatin dose lowered LDL cholesterol but there was no relationship seen between decreasing LDL cholesterol levels and reversing the progression of coronary artery calcification. It may require a longer period of treatment for the reversal of coronary artery calcification.


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