Objective: Carotid intima media thickness (IMT) is a good indicator of the severity of atherosclerotic disease. Statins have been found to reduce carotid IMT in patients with hypercholesterolaemia. The aim of this study was to investigate if pravastatin is effective in reducing IMT in normocholesterolaemic patients with carotid artery disease.
Methods: Patients with carotid artery stenosis and normal cholesterol levels who were not on a statin, were recruited. Patients were randomised to receive pravastatin or placebo daily. Serum concentration of cholesterol and IMT of common carotid arteries were measured before randomisation and at 3 monthly intervals thereafter, for 9 months. IMT was analysed to give the mean of a standardised 2 cm of the common carotid artery (CCA). Results are expressed as median (IQR) and comparison made using the Wilcoxon signed ranks test.
Results: Fifty-four patients were examined. Twenty-eight patients were randomised to active treatment. There was no difference in demographic details and co-morbid states between the two groups. A significant reduction in cholesterol concentration was observed from 3 months in patients randomised to the pravastatin group [5.14(4.72-5.88) vs. 4.11(3.44-5.33), p < 0.05], while there was also a significant decrease in combined IMT form 6 months [1.53(1.36-1.87) vs. 1.41 (1.33-1.78), p < 0.05].
Conclusions: The results demonstrate that pravastatin reduces intima media thickness of the common carotid artery in normocholesterolaemic patients with moderate carotid stenosis.