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Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis
Vol. 18 (2011) No. 9 P 784-795



Original Article

Aim: To evaluate whether plaque scoring measurements are able to track changes in atherosclerotic plaque burden over time and to study whether this is affected by lipid-lowering therapy.
Methods: Data used were from METEOR (Measuring Effects on Intima-Media Thickness: an Evaluation Of Rosuvastatin), a randomized controlled trial of rosuvastatin 40 mg among 984 low-risk patients with modest carotid intima-media thickening (CIMT). In this analysis, duplicate ultrasound images from 12 carotid sites were collected at the baseline and end of the study from 495 European patients and were evaluated for plaque presence and severity. Plaques were scored from near and far walls of the 12 sites (0= none; 1= minimal; 2= moderate; 3= severe) and plaque scores (PS) were combined into two summary measures for each examination. The MeanMaxPS is the mean over the 12 carotid sites of the maximum score at each site and the MaxMaxPS reflects the most severe lesion at any site.
Results: Baseline MeanMaxPS and MaxMaxPS were 0.31 (SD: 0.20) and 1.15 (SD: 0.51), respectively. Changes in MeanMaxPS and MaxMaxPS significantly differed between rosuvastatin and placebo (mean difference: −0.03 [SE: 0.01; p =0.016] and −0.09 [SE: 0.04; p =0.027], respectively). In contrast to rosuvastatin, which demonstrated no change from the baseline, placebo showed significant progression in MeanMaxPS and MaxMaxPS (p =0.002; both).
Conclusion: The plaque-scoring method proved capable of assessing the change in atherosclerotic plaque burden over time and proved useful to evaluate lipid-lowering in asymptomatic individuals with a low risk of cardiovascular disease and subclinical atherosclerosis.

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