Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is the leading cause of death in developed and developing countries. Despite decades of effort, unhealthy lifestyle habits and ASCVD risk factor levels remain high and are increasing in many population groups. A new approach to ASCVD prevention is needed. Multiple lines of evidence from animal and human studies suggest that atherosclerosis regression and normalization of vessel function can occur when low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) lowering occurs early in the course of atherosclerosis or when very aggressive LDL-C lowering occurs somewhat later. We propose a new paradigm focused on curing atherosclerosis early in the course of the disease. An approach that resets the vascular aging clock composed of initial regression therapy followed by periodic retreatment to suppress atherosclerosis development may be possible, with the ultimate goal of preventing subsequent ASCVD events. Proof-of-concept studies are needed to determine: 1) the optimal age and/or extent of atherosclerosis for intervention and LDL-C-lowering therapy; 2) the intensity and duration of therapy for inducing atherosclerosis regression; and 3) documenting the normalization of vascular function. Ultimately, this new paradigm will need to be evaluated in ASCVD outcomes trials.
Keywords: atherosclerosis; primordial prevention; regression.
Copyright © 2014 American College of Cardiology Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.