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12-09-2011 | Article

Short-term atorvastatin treatment improves carotid artery elasticity


Free abstract

MedWire News: Short-term treatment with high-dose atorvastatin significantly improves carotid artery wall elasticity, as demonstrated by reduced stiffness and increased dispensability, study findings show.

Therefore, "measurement of carotid elasticity holds promise as another potential surrogate end point in clinical trials targeting individuals at increased risk for atherosclerosis," remark the researchers.

Tatjana Rundek (University of Miami, Florida, USA) and team recruited 40 stroke-free and statin-naïve individuals, aged 45 years or more, and treated them with atorvastatin 80 mg daily for 30 days.

To examine the effects of atorvastatin on metrics of carotid artery wall elasticity, all participants underwent carotid artery scanning before initiation of atorvastatin, on day 14, and on day 30.

As reported in the journal Stroke, treatment with atorvastatin significantly improved carotid artery wall elasticity.

Specifically, carotid artery stiffness (determined by a stress-to-strain ratio) decreased from 0.08 at baseline to 0.07 at day 14 and significantly decreased to 0.05 at day 30. Carotid artery dispensability (calculated as 1/carotid artery stiffness) increased from 15.25 at baseline to 16.09 at day 14, and significantly increased to 17.23 at day 30.

After 30 days of treatment, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels decreased from a mean baseline level of 143.98 mg/dl (3.73 mmol/l) to 70.08 mg/dl (1.82 mmol/l).

Rundek et al note that this overall 30-day reduction was not significantly correlated with the change in elasticity. However, changes in carotid artery stiffness and dispensability were significant among individuals with baseline LDL cholesterol levels of less than 130 mg/dl (3.37 mmol/l) when compared with those with higher baseline levels.

Indeed, the researchers found that 25% and 22% more individuals experienced an improvement of 10% or more in carotid artery stiffness and dispensability, respectively, if their baseline LDL cholesterol was less than 130 mg/dl compared with those with higher baseline levels.

This shows that the treatment effect was more pronounced among these individuals, regardless of the degree of reduction in LDL and total cholesterol levels, explain the authors.

"Whether improvement in arterial elasticity translates into better cardiovascular outcomes is yet to be proven," they conclude.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Nikki Withers