According to a study, a modified magnetic scan can identify whether cholesterol-lowering statin drug are actually unblocking the clogged arteries.
The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan has been used to monitor blocked arteries. However, the results can only be seen after more than one year. The improved version of MRI by Hopkins team has a better sensitivity with extra coil rings being placed around the chest of the 29 patients in the study. An antenna was also inserted through the nose and down to the oesophagus of each patient to amplify the signal. After six months of statin treatment, the modified MRI scan could actually show thinning of atherosclerotic plaque.
No doubt statins can reduce plaque formation by as much as 40 percent and death rate by 30 percent, but to some people, it can cause serious side effects such as muscle pain or even heart damage. The modified MRI scans could help determine whether benefits outweigh risks early in the course of statin treatment.