Acute pancreatitis is mainly caused by alcohol abuse and gall stones. It produces a sudden attack of severe upper abdominal pain, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. An attack usually lasts for about 48 hours.
In this study, Prof. Michael Goldacre and Dr Stephen Roberts analyzed trends in hospital admissions for pancreatitis between 1963 and 1998 in Oxford, England.
They found that admission rates for acute pancreatitis rose in both men and women during the study period, particularly in younger age groups.
|Increases reflect an increase in alcoholic pancreatitis.|
|British Medical Journal|
This partly reflects an increase in alcoholic pancreatitis, related to increasing use of alcohol in the community. Although an increase in the occurrence of gall stones may have also contributed to the rise.
Death rates in the first month after admission were 30 times higher than in the general population of the same age.
Overall, pancreatitis remains a disease with a poor prognosis. Death rates have not improved since the 1970s because no major innovations in treatment have been introduced, the authors conclude conclude.