A new drug is being hailed as the “holy grail” in the fight against heart disease.
Doctors believe they may have found a way of reversing the illness for the first time.
The health of more than two million people in the UK is thought to be affected by arteries narrowed by the build-up of fatty deposits.
The process, known as atherosclerosis, can lead to potentially fatal conditions including heart attacks and strokes.
In the past, medical experts focused their efforts on slowing the progress of what was thought to be an irreversible disease.
But a new study shows a powerful new cholesterol-reducing drug can also reduce the deposits, known as atheroma.
Patients were given intensive treatment with a new form of statin, a type of drug used to reduce cholesterol levels, known as Rosuvastatin.
Tests found that as cholesterol was reduced, build-ups of fatty deposits in the patients’ arteries also showed a slight regression, with some reduction in the level of atherosclerosis in 78% of patients.
The reductions were found to be greatest in the arteries with the greatest severity of the disease.
Dr Neal Uren said atheroma reduction was the “holy grail” in the fight to combat heart disease.