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Drugs That Dissolve Artery Plaque

author image Jeffrey Traister
Jeffrey Traister is a writer and filmmaker. For more than 25 years, he has covered nutrition and medicine for health-care companies and publishers, also producing digital video for websites, DVDs and commercials. Trained in digital filmmaking at The New School, Traister also holds a Master of Science in human nutrition and medicine from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Drugs That Dissolve Artery Plaque
Some drugs can dissolve artery plaque. Photo Credit stethoscope & drugs image by Olaru Radian-Alexandru from Fotolia.com

Plaque is a substance made up of fat, cholesterol and calcium that builds up in the coronary arteries that supply the heart with oxygen-rich blood, according to the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute. A buildup of plaque increases risk of atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by narrow arteries, blood clots and restricted blood flow that could lead to a heart attack and death. Some drugs can dissolve arterial plaque and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.


Lipitor is a prescription drug in a class of medicines called statins. Atorvastatin is the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Lipitor. The product label says Lipitor is indicated as an adjunct therapy to diet to reduce elevated total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, chest pain and stroke in patients with multiple risk factors.

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2004 and in the American Journal of Medicine in 2005 discovered that intensive lipid-lowering treatment with 80mg per day of atorvastatin in patients with coronary heart disease reduces arterial plaque, also called atheroma, and progression of coronary atherosclerosis by 0.4 percent. Intravascular ultrasonography was used to provide a three-dimensional view of the size and distribution of plaque inside the coronary artery. Moreover, baseline low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level was reduced from 150mg per dL to 79mg per dL. The results demonstrate that Lipitor can dissolve plaque and reduce risk factors associated with coronary artery disease.

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Crestor is a prescription drug that contains rosuvastatin. According to the product label, Crestor is indicated for patients with high blood cholesterol and fats and to slow down progression of atherosclerosis. Research published in the Journal of Southern Medical University in 2010 demonstrated that rosuvastatin significantly reduces the size of arteriosclerotic plaques.

Beta Blockers

Beta blockers, also called beta-adrenergic blocking agents, are prescription drugs in a class of medicines used to treat high blood pressure, says MayoClinic.com. Beta blockers such as sectral, nebivolol, propranolol and carvedilol, reduce blood pressure, improve blood flow in the arteries and can slow progression and induce regression of coronary artery disease by blocking the effects of epinephrine, a hormone also called adrenaline. Research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2007 demonstrates that beta-blockers can slow progression of coronary atherosclerosis. The research discovered that plaque volume significantly decreases in patients who receive beta blockers.

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