Objectives: We sought to evaluate whether pravastatin treatment increases myocardial perfusion, as assessed by thallium-201 single-photon emission computed tomographic (SPECT) dipyridamole testing, in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) and average cholesterol levels.
Background: Previous studies in hypercholesterolemic patients have demonstrated that cholesterol reduction restores peripheral and coronary endothelium-dependent vasodilation and increases myocardial perfusion.
Methods: This was a randomized, placebo-controlled study with a cross-over design. Twenty patients with CAD were randomly assigned to receive 20 mg of pravastatin or placebo for 16 weeks and then were crossed over to the opposite medication for a further 16 weeks. Lipid and lipoprotein analysis and dipyridamole thallium-201 SPECT were performed at the end of each period. The SPECT images were visually analyzed in eight myocardial segments using a 4-point scoring system by two independent observers. A summed stress score and a summed rest score were obtained for each patient. Quantitative evaluation was performed by the Cedars-Sinai method. The magnitude of the defect was expressed as a percentage of global myocardial perfusion.
Results: Total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels during placebo were 214 +/- 29 mg/dl and 148 +/- 25 mg/dl, respectively. These levels with pravastatin were 170 +/- 23 mg/dl and 103 +/- 23 mg/dl, respectively. The summed stress score and summed rest score were lower with pravastatin than with placebo (7.2 +/- 2.3 vs. 5.9 +/- 2.3, p = 0.012 and 3.2 +/- 1.6 vs. 2.4 +/- 2.2, p = 0.043, respectively). Quantitative analysis showed a smaller perfusion defect with pravastatin (29.2%) as compared with placebo (33.8%) (p = 0.021) during dipyridamole stress. No differences were found at rest.
Conclusions: Reducing cholesterol levels with pravastatin in patients with CAD improves myocardial perfusion during dipyridamole stress thallium-201 SPECT.