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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 983-989

Plaque regression and plaque stabilisation in cardiovascular diseases

1 Department of Cardiology, Rajsthan Hospital, Ahmedabad, India
2 Department of Cardiology, NMM, Chennai, India
3 Astra Zeneca India Ltd., Hebbal, Bangalore, India
4 Department of Cardiology, Apollo Hospital, Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Tarun Dave
2nd Floor White House, Panchvati, Ambawadi, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2230-8210.122604

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Atherosclerosis is characterized by formation of plaques on the inner walls of arteries that threatens to become the leading cause of death worldwide via its sequelae of myocardial infarction and stroke. Endothelial dysfunction leads to cholesterol uptake and accumulation of infl ammatory markers within the plaque. The stability of a plaque eventually depends on the balance between vascular smooth muscle cells that stabilize it and the infl ammatory cells like macrophages and T lymphocytes that make it prone to rupture. The current approach to manage atherosclerosis focuses on the treatment of a ruptured plaque and efforts have been made to reduce the risk of plaque rupture by identifying vulnerable plaques and treating them before they precipitate into clinical events. New diagnostic approaches such as IVUS and CIMT ultrasound are now being preferred over traditional coronary angiography because of their better accuracy in measuring plaque volume rather than the level of stenosis caused. The present review highlights the literature available on two prevalent approaches to manage a vulnerable plaque, namely, plaque stabilization and plaque regression, and their validation through various treatment modalities in recent plaque management studies. Plaque stabilization focuses on stabilizing the content of plaque and strengthening the overlying endothelium, while plaque regression focuses on the overall reduction in plaque volume and to reverse the arterial endothelium to its normal functional state. Although earlier studies contemplated the practicality of plaque regression and focused greatly on stabilization of a vulnerable plaque, our review indicated that, aided by the use of superior diagnostics tools, more intensive lipid modifying therapies have resulted in actual plaque regression.

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