Lowering cholesterol – the earlier the better

27 February 2014        

Category: BHF Comment

Lab test

Early forms of atherosclerotic plaque disappear when cholesterol levels are lowered, researchers have found.

Atherosclerosis, where fat clogs blood vessels by forming so-called ‘plaques’, is the main cause of coronary heart disease.

Researchers studied mice with raised levels of cholesterol. When cholesterol was lowered, early plaques disappeared almost entirely. Mature and advanced plaques reduced but were still present.

The researchers lowered cholesterol levels in mice using a genetic switch, but in humans cholesterol can be lowered with drugs such as statins.

Our Research Advisor, Dr Sanjay Thakrar, said: “This interesting study shows that lowering cholesterol levels early could reverse the development of atherosclerosis, which causes coronary heart disease.

“The results also identified different networks of genes which could be targeted in humans with new drugs.

“However, this research was conducted in genetically modified mice and did not use any medications such as statins. Thus, more research is needed to see if we can translate these findings into treatment for patients.”