Since we are on the topic of the ASTEROID trial and rosuvastatin, I’d make one more point before I start to sound like I’m plugging this drug (which I definitely am not).
In an informative Roundtable Discussion (open to subscribers to the American Journal of Cardiology; sorry) amongst Dr. Steve Nissen, principal investigator behind ASTEROID; and Drs. Vincent Friedewald, Christie Ballantyne, P. Shah, and William Roberts, Dr. Nissen made some interesting comments:
Dr. Shah: In ASTEROID, was the magnitude of atheroma volume change seen across different levels of LDL-C and HDL-C?
Dr. Nissen: No. There was no plaque regression seen in the 17 persons with LDL-Cs >/= 100 mg/dl, and there was little change in persons with LDL-Cs of 70 to 100 mg/dl. Only in persons with LDLs less than or equal to 70 mg/dl was there significant regression. The study was not powered to look for an HDL-C(which increased by 14.7%)-raising effect.
Interesting. In other words, ASTEROID, in a fairly internally consistent way, suggests that the lower the LDL is reduced, the more likely plaque regression is obtained. This is consistent with the Track Your Plaque experience, in which we’ve advocated reducing (calculated) LDL cholesterol to 60 mg/dl for the past several years.
Unfortunately, the message that the ASTEROID Trial sponsors, AstraZeneca, as well as the roundtable discussion panel (later in the discussion) try to make is that there is something magical about Crestor, that it yields benefits superior to other statin agents or other means of reducing LDL.
I disagree with this message. In the Track Your Plaque experience, we do aim for a similar LDL target. But we also employ a number of other strategies. We have also succeeded in regressing plaque without use of any statin drugs (though, admittedly, many people do require statin drugs to obtain LDLs in this range). We also witness magnitudes of reversal that often far exceed that seen in ASTEROID.
The Rountable Discussion is unfortunately tainted, as is the ASTEROID Trial itself, with deep drug industry financial involvement of the Roundtable participants. In fact, the discussion begins with a listing of the financial disclosures of the participants, a listing that occupies a full column of a two-column page. The potential biases of the participants doesn’t necessarily invalidate the arguments, but to me suggests that participants are more likely to argue in favor of the sponsor’s drug, or that participants were chosen because of these biases.
Why bother to even mention the ASTEROID Trial in a venue (the Heart Scan Blog, that is) that purports to seek unvarnished, unbiased truth in coronary plaque reversal? Because useful information can sometimes be found in unlikely places. Just like the four-year old child who blurts out an unexpected pearl of wisdom, so it can happen with the gobbledy-gook that emerges from the drug industry.
Every once in a while, they are worth paying attention to.
Change your life in 60 seconds