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Sep 12, 2014 06:08 AM EDT

Anti-Inflammatory Drugs May Help Lower Blood Vessel Disease Risk in Diabetics: Study

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A Spanish University study found that inflammation might be the culprit behind high blood sugar levels' damaging effects on blood vessels. The findings suggest that anti-inflammatory medications could one day be used to reduce the risk of blood vessel disease in diabetic patients.

"These findings may explain why good blood sugar control is not sufficient to avoid the development of diabetes-induced cardiovascular diseases," said Carlos F. Sánchez-Ferrer, study author and professor of pharmacology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain, in a press release. "We need to find new medications focused on reducing inflammation."

For the study, the researchers conducted experiments on cultured smooth muscle cells from the main human artery (aorta).

They found that excess glucose in the culture fluid didn't enter the cells in the absence of inflammation. Similar results were observed when extra glucose was forced into the cells.

But when the inflammation-stimulating protein interleukin-1 (IL-1) was introduced, more glucose entered the cells. In the presence of IL-1, the glucose entering the cells accelerated inflammation, overpowering the cells' ability to thwart it.

When the anti-inflammatory drug anakinra that inhibits the activity of IL-1 was introduced, the harmful changes didn't occur.

"We need to reduce the inflammatory environment associated with diabetes," Sánchez-Ferrer said. "Changes in life-style, such as physical exercise and weight reduction, are important not only because they reduce blood sugar but because they reduce inflammation."

A recent study by the Linkoping University, Sweden, found that a low-carb diet lowers inflammation in type-2 diabetes patients.

"The clinical trial resulted in a similar weight loss comparing low-carbohydrate diet and low-fat diet, but only the low-carbohydrate diet had a favourable impact on inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes," the researchers said in a statement. Inflammation causes several diseases including Alzheimer's, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, strokes, diabetes and obesity, Atkins reports. Besides low-carb diet, yoga has also been found to reduce exhaustion and inflammation in breast cancer survivors. 

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