Regression of coronary atherosclerosis during treatment of familial hypercholesterolemia with combined drug regimens

JAMA. 1990 Dec 19;264(23):3007-12.


We conducted a randomized, controlled trial in 72 patients with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia to test whether reducing plasma low-density lipoprotein levels by diet and combined drug regimens can induce regression of coronary lesions. Four hundred fifty-seven lesions were measured before and after a 26-month interval by computer-based quantitative angiography. The primary outcome variable was within-patient mean change in percent area stenosis. Mean low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels decreased from 7.32 +/- 1.5 to 4.45 +/- 1.6 mmol/L. The mean change in percent area stenosis among controls was +0.80, indicating progression, while the mean change for the treatment group was -1.53, indicating regression (P = .039 by two-tailed t test for the difference between groups). Regression among women, analyzed separately, was also significant. The change in percent area stenosis was correlated with low-density lipoprotein levels on trial. We conclude that reduction of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels can induce regression of atherosclerotic lesions of the coronary arteries in patients with familial hypercholesterolemia. The anticipation of benefit from treatment applies to women and men alike.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Colestipol / administration & dosage
  • Coronary Artery Disease / blood
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / drug therapy
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type II / blood
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type II / drug therapy*
  • Lovastatin / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Niacin / adverse effects
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Triglycerides
  • Niacin
  • Lovastatin
  • Colestipol