Tracking atherosclerosis regression: a clinical tool in preventive cardiology.

Atherosclerosis. 2005 May;180(1):1-10.  

Taylor A, Shaw LJ, Fayad Z, O’Leary D, Brown BG, Nissen S, Rader D, Raggi P.
Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Atlanta, GA, USA. 

Progression of coronary artery disease was initially evaluated using quantitative coronary angiography with ensuing evidence indicating a strong relationship to adverse cardiovascular outcomes. Since then, several other atherosclerosis imaging techniques have emerged as new tools in cardiovascular medicine to evaluate the effectiveness of preventive therapies through serial monitoring of changes in atherosclerosis burden. Conducting large randomized trials to test new approaches for the medical management of atherosclerosis, with the goal of showing a reduction in event rates, may often be impractical in an era of cost containment and reduced societal resources. Recent evidence has unfolded that investigates alternative ways of assessing therapeutic results such as the attainment of surrogate goals with substantial outcome relevance. Atherosclerosis imaging modalities such as coronary computed tomography, carotid ultrasound, cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging, and intravascular ultrasound each possess specific imaging abilities and inter-test characteristics that enable their serial use as intermediate endpoints in clinical trials and, increasingly, in individual patient management. The current review focuses on the application of these modalities as emerging tools in cardiovascular prevention.