08:35am Thursday 02 July 2020

Ultrasound can measure effects of atherosclerosis drugs

A dissertation at Umeå University shows that ultrasound offers a radiation-free, easy-to-perform and cost-effective method to not only monitor the effect of treatment for deadly atherosclerosis disease but also to identify people at risk of a future brain stroke.

In a meta-analysis of previous research, researchers confirmed that ultrasound can evaluate the effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs, or statins, on carotid atherosclerosis as changes in carotid plaque composition indicate signs of stability as early as the first month after therapy.

“Atherosclerosis disease, mainly heart attack and stroke, is the main cause of death worldwide. The only way to control it is to identify changes in the arterial walls at very early stages, before they develop a mature disease. This research improves our understanding of how ultrasound can be used to identify early carotid disease features and to measure the effects of cholesterol-lowering statin treatment. These findings, which need to be confirmed in larger studies, could lead to better risk factors control,” says Pranvera Ibrahimi, doctoral student in the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine at Umeå University and author of the dissertation.

Picture of Pranvera Ibrahimi at Umeå University.By looking closely at features of the carotid plaques on the right and left sides of the neck, researchers have confirmed that atherosclerosis severity is similar in both sides of symptomatic patients. Also supporting the concept of atherosclerosis is a systemic disease, researchers found that measuring the normal arterial wall in the lower segments of the vessel could accurately predict atherosclerotic disease severity higher up in the carotid tree.

Atherosclerosis, which means hardening of the arteries, is caused by an accumulation of fat in artery walls, which leads to inflammation, hardening and eventually blockage of the blood vessel.  While medical treatment with cholesterol lowering medications improves the arterial wall disease, significant narrowing in of the lumen in symptomatic patients can only be treated surgically. In patients without atherosclerosis, ultrasound examination of the carotid arteries can be used to identify arterial wall disease before significant narrowing develops.

Pranvera Ibrahimi is a doctoral student at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University. She comes from Prishtina, Kosovo, where she works as resident doctor in cardiology.

Read a digital publication of the dissertation

For more information, please contact:


Pranvera Ibrahimi, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine
Phone: +46 70 23643 99
Email: [email protected]


About the dissertation defence:


On Wednesday 25 November, Pranvera Ibrahimi, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, defends her dissertation entitled: Patterns of non-invasive imaging of carotid atherosclerosis. Opponent: Pompillio Faggiano, professor, Cardiology Division, Azieda Ospdaliera Spedali Civili-Brescia, Spedali Civili and University of Brescia, Italy. Main supervisor: Michael Henein.


The defence will take place at 09:00 at the University Hospital of Umeå (NUS), Unod T9, Room B.


Editor: Anna Lawrence

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