March 25, 2021/Heart Health

Can Statins Actually Reverse Plaque Buildup?

The short answer from a cardiologist

plaque buildup in blood vessel statin

Q: Can statins actually reverse plaque buildup?

A: Yes. There have been several clinical studies — many of them done here at Cleveland Clinic — that show statins can reverse plaque buildup.

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Two statins in particular, atorvastatin, which is sold under the brand name Lipitor, and rosuvastatin, which is sold under the brand name Crestor, are the strongest statins.

Clinical studies using ultrasound in the coronary arteries have shown that when you are on high doses of these medicines, even if you have plaque buildup already, you can stabilize the plaque on statin therapy.

If your LDL cholesterol is lowered below 70 mg/dL, you can even see a regression in the plaque by up to 24%. So having really a low LDL cholesterol level can help stabilize any plaque buildup you have, and prevent further plaque progression.

— Cardiologist Steven Nissen, MD

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