Background: Electron beam tomography (EBT) is a noninvasive technique that allows the study of the entire coronary artery tree during a brief imaging session without the injection of any contrast media. Atherosclerosis is identified vicariously through the visualization of coronary calcific deposits. Quantitative assessments of calcium burden, such as calcium volume scores, have been shown to be a useful means to assess treatment-related changes in the extent of atherosclerotic plaques. Historically, the elderly female population has received less medical recognition regarding the risk and severity of coronary heart disease (CHD). Methods: In the BELLES (Beyond Endorsed Lipid Lowering with EBT Scanning) trial, the presence of asymptomatic CHD in 600 postmenopausal women will be assessed by EBT. In this 1-year, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group study, aggressive lipid-lowering treatment will be compared with moderate lipid-lowering treatment in postmenopausal women with hypercholesterolemia. The hypothesis we will test is that aggressive lipid-lowering therapy with 80 mg/c atorvastatin can produce greater reductions in atherosclerotic plaque burden as assessed by volumetric calcium scores than a moderate treatment with 40 mg/d pravastatin. The primary outcome measure will be the percent change from baseline in total CVS determined by EBT at 12 months. Conclusions: The results of the BELLES trial will help assess the actual incidence of CHD in postmenopausal women and the relative ability of two different lipid-lowering therapies to halt its progression.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine