News Thursday August 23, 2012

Statins may be able to prevent pancreatitis

Statins are a widely used treatment for high cholesterol, and is known to reduce 'bad cholesterol' levels in the blood in people who are at risk of serious health complications. It would however appear that they don't just prevent cardiovascular complications but can also reverse the effects of triglycerides on the pancreas.

According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Glasgow, people who used statins had a 21% lower risk of developing pancreatitis, which is caused by high levels of triglycerides in the blood, compared to those who didn't use the treatment.

Triglycerides are a type of fat that occur alongside HDL ('good cholesterol') and LDL ('bad cholesterol') in the blood and in high numbers mostly has a negative effect on a person's health. Triglyceride levels tend to be elevated in people who drink heavily quite regularly, which is why it's often associated with diseases related to drinking such as pancreatitis. This is a condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed often as a result of excessive drinking or because of gallstones.

The results of the study also showed that treatments like fibrates, which are also used to help control blood lipid levels, may not have the desired effects and may even increase the risk of pancreatitis because it can increase a patient's risk of developing gallstones. It is thought that one in three adults over 45 take statins in the UK to reduce their risk of developing heart problems as a result of high cholesterol.

The results of the study can be found in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Click here to learn more about statins and high cholesterol treatment.

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