Cholesterol lowering in patients with above-average cholesterol levels has been shown to reduce the progression of atherosclerosis. We assess the effects of lipid lowering therapy on the progression of early, preintrusive carotid arterial atherosclerosis in high risk patients with familial hyperlipidaemia free of symptomatic cardiovascular disease.
Fifty-two patients with familial hyperlipidaemia by were treated by diet and various hypolipidaemic drugs. Eighteen individuals were not taking hypolipidaemic drugs. In a prospective study by B-mode ultrasound we assessed the intima-media thickness of the distal common carotid arterial (CCA) far wall at baseline and after 4 years.
In a subgroup of 25 patients with familial hypercholesterolaemia there was a significant decrease in total and LDL cholesterol and reduction in the intima-media thickness (IMT) of the common carotid artery from 0.78+/-0.22 mm to 0.69+/-0.17 mm (p=0.004). In a subgroup of 27 patients with familial combined hyperlipidaemia significant decreases in total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides were associated with a decrease in the IMT of common carotid. artery from 0.72+/-0.22 mm to 0.67+/-0.15 mm (p=0.044). In 18 individuals, who were not taking hypolipidaemic drugs, there were no significant changes in the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and in the IMT of the common carotid artery (increase from 0.58+/-0.18 mm to 0.62+/-0.13 mm, p>0.05).
Lipid-lowering therapy in patients with familial hyperlipidaemia free of symptomatic cardiovascular disease reverses the progression of early, preintrusive atherosclerosis of the carotid artery. It is a beneficial sign indicating the possibility for atherosclerosis regression.