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Cholesterol Drugs May Boost Your Gums' Health, Too

Study finds statins reduce gum inflammation
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The current study lends support to the idea that statins can reduce inflammation. It included 83 adults who had risk factors for, or already had, atherosclerosis. They were randomly assigned to take either 10 or 80 milligrams of a statin called atorvastatin (brand name Lipitor) for three months.

Everyone underwent imaging at the start of the study, again after four weeks and then at 12 weeks.

At the end of the study, the investigators had complete data on 59 people. They found a significant reduction in gum inflammation for the people taking 80 mg of atorvastatin compared to those on the 10-mg dose. Changes began as early as four weeks after people started taking the higher-dose drug.

There was a more significant reduction in gum inflammation for people who had more serious gum disease at the start of the study and took a higher dose of the statin. The researchers also found that a reduction in gum inflammation correlated with reduced blood vessel inflammation.

"It was really those on the higher-dose statins that had the benefit," noted Tawakol. But, "I would not recommend the use of statins outside the current guidelines," he added. "We see this trial more as a proof-of-principle trial. Our findings need to be confirmed in a larger clinical trial."

Still, he said, there's little harm in telling people to take care of gum disease. "Patients with known heart disease and known gum disease should have their gum disease evaluated and treated," Tawakol said.

Blaha agreed that it's too soon to change practice guidelines either for treating heart disease risk factors or for gum disease.

Still, "this study and others like it have tremendous implications," Blaha said. "We've never had a drug that worked this well and for so many different groups of patients."

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Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. But your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as statins. Following medication, dietary, and exercise instructions should result in improvements.

Your total cholesterol level is High, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

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