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Coronary and peripheral artery plaques: do differences in plaque characteristics translate to differences in lipid management?
  1. Shirling Tsai1,2,
  2. Gloria Lena Vega3
  1. 1 Surgery, UT Southwestern Medical, Dallas, Texas, USA
  2. 2 Department of Surgery, Dallas VA Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA
  3. 3 Clinical Nutrition, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Shirling Tsai, Department of Surgery, UT Southwestern Medical, Dallas, TX 75390-8570, USA; shirling.tsai{at}


Optimal medical management of patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) includes statin therapy, which has been shown to decrease the risk of major cardiovascular events. However, the relationship between low-density lipoprotein (LDL) lowering, PAD progression and limb outcomes remains controversial. Although prevention of coronary and cerebrovascular events is a priority, limb outcomes are still important determinants of quality of life and healthcare spending. This review will highlight differences between coronary artery disease (CAD) and PAD, and in particular, the more prevalent role of lipids and LDL cholesterol in CAD versus calcification in PAD. This difference may contribute to the differential impact of LDL cholesterol levels on coronary events and outcomes versus limb outcomes. Beyond LDL lowering, immune modulators have emerged as another agent to treat atherosclerosis in CAD, however similar data in PAD are lacking. Small studies have suggested that other lipids besides LDL cholesterol, such as triglycerides or small dense LDL, may have a greater impact on limb outcomes in patients with PAD. Although statin therapy is central in the management of patients with PAD, current understanding of the distinctions between PAD and CAD suggest that there may be other non-LDL targets for risk reduction that require further study.

  • plaque
  • atherosclerotic and lipoproteins
  • LDL
  • triglycerides
  • peripheral arterial disease

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  • Contributors ST and GLV contributed equally to the conception, design, writing and critical revision of this document. ST and GLV have both approved the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer The contents do not represent the views of the US Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Research approval was not required for this manuscript, as there were no human or animal subjects involved in this literature review.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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