After evaluating previous research, a report published in the Journal of the American Heart Association concludes that a clinical trial might pave the way for a new treatment to help reduce the early onset of atherosclerosis.
According to lead author Dr. Jennifer G. Robinson, a professor of epidemiology and director of the Prevention Intervention Center at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, the key may be targeting B lipoproteins in young and middle-aged adults.
These blood proteins (also called apolipoprotein B) include low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or the “bad,” cholesterol. Scientists think that LDL and other B lipoproteins are among the leading causes of atherosclerosis.
“Lowering them may have a big impact on making atherosclerosis go away,” says Dr. Robinson. “If this works, you could completely eliminate heart attacks and strokes within a generation, because you can’t have a heart attack or stroke unless you have atherosclerosis.”
The potential study aims to determine whether it is possible to reverse atherosclerosis in high-risk adults aged 25–55 using medications known as statins and PCSK9 inhibitors over a 3-year period. Both statins and PCSK9 inhibitors work to lower LDL cholesterol in the blood.
“The idea is to get the cholesterol very low for a short period of time, let all the early cholesterol buildup dissolve, and let the arteries heal,” says Dr. Robinson, confirming that this method has been successful in animal studies. “Then patients might need to be re-treated every decade or two if the atherosclerosis begins to develop again.”