http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4800772.stmDrugs 'can reverse heart disease'
Statins can lower cholesterol
Intensive therapy with statin drugs may not just stall deterioration of the arteries but actually reverse it, research suggests.
The build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries - atherosclerosis - can trigger cardiovascular disease.
An international study of 349 patients over two years found high doses of a powerful new statin, rosuvastatin, could break down the deposits.
Details were presented to an American College of Cardiology meeting.
Heart disease kills 114,000 people a year in the UK, and affects 2.6million overall.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, a London GP and member of the Royal College of General Practitioners, described the results as "dramatically exciting".
She said: "We have a drug that can not only halt the progression of the disease but, in the vast majority of patients, it actually showed the disease regress."
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said the study was "important".
But he said it was yet to be demonstrated that breaking down the fatty deposits would actually mean fewer heart attacks.
The study focused on patients with cardiovascular disease at centres in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia.
They were given intensive treatment with rosuvastatin, known commercially as Crestor, which, along with other statins, was known to cut cholesterol levels.
Patients received at least one 40mg pill of the drug a day - most statins come in doses of no bigger than 20mg.
Tests found that the drug cut levels of potentially damaging LDL-cholesterol by about 50% and boosted levels of the beneficial HDL form by around 15%.
As harmful cholesterol was reduced, build-ups of fatty deposits in the patients' arteries also showed signs of a reduction.
After two years of treatment their thickness was reduced by 6.8% - and even more so in particularly diseased parts of a blood vessel.
The research found almost four out of five patients (78%) demonstrated some reduction in the level of atherosclerosis.
The reductions were found to be greatest in the arteries with the most severe disease.
Professor Weissberg said: "Previously it was thought that statins saved lives by stabilising plaques - the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries - thereby preventing them from rupturing to cause a heart attack or stroke.
"This study encouragingly seems to demonstrate a small but definite regression of atherosclerotic plaques.
"However, this study wasn't designed to test whether this treatment actually saves lives, so whilst the results sound promising and are likely to translate into a better outcome for heart patients, we still need further studies to confirm whether the regression demonstrated translates to fewer heart attacks."
Rosuvastatin has previously been linked to a small number of cases of a muscle wasting disease.
However, the drug was given a clean bill of health by the US Food and Drug Administration last year.
The study will be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in April.
With so many people taking statins for CVD I wonder if there is any research crossing CVD and MS and their use??