According to a recent study, led by Vasilis Athyros from the Hippokration University Hospital in Thessaloniki, Greece, and Dimitri Mikhailidis from University College London, patients with alanine aminotransferase (ALT) receive a substantially greater cardiovascular benefit from statin treatment compared with patients who have normal liver tests. These findings suggest that statins are a safe and promising treatment strategy for patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
The study (Lancet 2010;376:1916–22) assessed whether long-term (three year) statin treatment (mainly atorvastatin) is safe and effective in patients thought to have NAFLD. Overall, liver-related adverse effects such as increased levels of liver enzymes or serum transaminases like alanine aminotransferase (ALT) occurred no more often in the group who were given statins. Over three years follow-up, ALT improved or normalised in patients who were given statins, but in the group not taking statins liver tests worsened.