Carotid neck ultrasound the only way to check regression of heart blockages

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In people with type 2 diabetes, intensive drug therapy can significantly lower bad LDL cholesterol and reduce the thickness of the neck carotid arteries supplying oxygen to the brain.

A study published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology has shown that every effort should be made to bring down the bad LDL cholesterol to less than 80mg/dL.

The Stop Atherosclerosis in Native Diabetics Study (SANDS) trial tested the value of aggressively lowering bad LDL cholesterol to 70 mg/dL or lower and non HDL cholesterol to 100 mg/dL.

The standard treatment group had standard goals (100 mg/dL for LDL and less than 130 mg/dL for non HDL Cholesterol).

The study involved 427 type 2 diabetic Native Americans who were aged 40 or older and who had no history of heart attack or other heart-related event. There were 204 people in the standard treatment group and 223 in the aggressive treatment group. Ultrasound tests showed that neck artery thickness got worse, or progressed, in the standard treatment group and regressed in the aggressive treatment groups.

The test called intima media thickness of the carotids is the only cost-effective test to know whether or not the heart blockages are shrinking or progressing as the thickening in carotids goes hand in hand with the thickening in the heart arteries.