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Rosuvastatin may stabilize atherosclerotic aortic plaque: transesophageal echocardiographic study in the EPISTEME trial

Posted March 1, 2016
This news or article is intended for readers with certain scientific or professional knowledge in the field.

Large atheromatous aortic plaques (AAPs) have been associated with ischemic stroke. There is little evidence to guide the therapeutic strategy for ischemic stroke associated with large AAPs. This study sought to analyze the temporal profile of AAPs after rosuvastatin therapy in Japanese patients with acute ischemic stroke.


The Efficacy of Post-stroke Intensive Rosuvastatin Treatment for aortogenic Embolic stroke (EPISTEME) trial was a prospective, randomized, open-label study. Acute ischemic stroke patients with dyslipidemia and AAPs ≥4-mm-thick on transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) were enrolled and randomly allocated to either the group treated with 5 mg/day rosuvastatin or the control group. The primary endpoint was the changes in volume and composition of AAPs on repeat TEE after 6 months. High-echoic plaque area was analyzed using binary images.


A total of 24 Japanese patients (rosuvastatin 12; control 12) were included in the primary analysis. Rosuvastatin substantially reduced low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) compared to control (-42.1% vs. 1.4%, P < 0.001). Percent changes of high-echoic plaque areas were significantly increased in the rosuvastatin group, while they were decreased in the control group (65.8% vs -14.7%, P < 0.001). There was a significant linear correlation between percent increase in high-echoic plaque area and LDL-C decrease (r=-0.434, P=0.002).


Treatment with 5-mg rosuvastatin for 6 months might induce atheromatous aortic plaque stabilization together with marked LDL-C reduction in Japanese patients with ischemic stroke, which could provide evidence on which to base the therapeutic strategy for aortogenic brain embolism.

Source: Atherosclerosis. 2015 Apr;239(2):476-82. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2015.02.021. Epub 2015 Feb 16.

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