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Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol
Following an unhealthy cholesterol test, individuals are often prescribed statin medications. However, doctors often have little evidence to tell them if these drugs are actually reducing the patient's risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. New evidence suggests that MRI scans may address this problem.
The reason why cholesterol-lowering medications do not always reduce a person's risk of cardiovascular events is because cholesterol is not the sole cause. Cholesterol contributes to the accumulation of plaque buildups in the arteries, which are the real cause of heart attacks and strokes.
Yet, traditional imaging techniques can only show doctors if a patient has arterial plaque, not the composition of these buildups. They are often made up mostly of cholesterol, but not always.
The Loyola University researchers who conducted the current study found that MRI scans are capable of determining the exact composition of buildups. This may enable doctors to get a better feel for whether or not cholesterol-lowering medications are actually reducing a patient's cardiovascular risk.
"In the future, MRI scans may become important and powerful tools to see how medication therapy is working inside arteries," said lead researcher Binh An Phan.
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