Arthritis medications reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes

March 05, 2008

Patients prescribed drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis could be at a reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to a study published today in the open access journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.

An international team of researchers led by Antonio Naranjo of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, and colleagues in Argentina, Europe, and the USA have analyzed data from the QUEST-RA (Quantitative Patient Questionnaires in Standard Monitoring of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis) study. From this study, including 4,363 patients from 48 sites in 15 countries, the team has examined the causes and effects of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as the potential benefits of medications.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a known risk factor for hardening of the arteries and so can lead to stroke and heart attacks occurring in sufferers ten years earlier than in people without the condition. However, earlier studies have shown that treating rheumatoid arthritis with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as methotrexate, may reduce this risk. The current research quantifies this risk reduction in thousands of patients in the QUEST-RA study.

Naranjo and colleagues found that risk, when adjusted for age, sex, disease activity, and traditional risk factors such as lack of exercise, smoking, diabetes, and high cholesterol levels, correlated strongly with the use of drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Taking methotrexate - the most widely used DMARD - for just one year for example was found to be associated with an 18% reduction in risk of heart attack and an 11% decrease in risk of stroke, the researchers say.

"Our study provides further support of the influence of both traditional and RA specific risk factors in the development of cardiovascular events, especially heart attack" the researchers conclude, "As assessed by this study, the risk was lower with the prolonged use of methotrexate, sulfasalazine, glucocorticoids, leflunomide and TNF-α blockers."

In an accompanying editorial, Dr Ronald van Vollenhoven of Karolinska Institute, Sweden, reviews the research article. "The possibility that antirheumatic therapy decreases the risk for cardiovascular complications is tantalizing," writes the author. "The current study, while not exactly proving this point, adds a further measure of support to the concept, and suggests that it must now be formally addressed.
-end-
Notes to Editors:

1. Cardiovascular disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Results from the QUEST-RA study Antonio Naranjo, Tuulikki Sokka, Miguel A Descalzo, Jaime Calvo-Alen, Kim Horslev-Petersen, Reijo K Luukkainen, Bernard Combe, Gerd R Burmester, Joe Devlin, Gianfranco Ferraccioli, Alessia Morelli, Monique Hoekstra, Maria Majdan, Stefan Sadkiewicz, Miguel Belmonte, Ann-Carin Holmqvist, Ernest Choy, Recep Tunc, Aleksander Dimic, Martin Bergman, Sergio Toloza and Theodore Pincus
Arthritis Research & Therapy (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://arthritis-research.com/imedia/3983133971382053_article.pdf?random=955870

After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://arthritis-research.com/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication

2. Arthritis Research & Therapy is an international, peer-reviewed online and print journal, publishing original research, reviews, commentaries and reports. Studies relate to the rationale and treatment of arthritis, autoimmune disease and diseases of bone and cartilage. The journal is edited by Prof Peter E Lipsky (USA) and Prof Sir Ravinder N Maini (UK) and has an Impact Factor of 3.8.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an independent online publishing house committed to providing immediate access without charge to the peer-reviewed biological and medical research it publishes. This commitment is based on the view that open access to research is essential to the rapid and efficient communication of science.

BioMed Central

Related Heart Attack Articles from Brightsurf:

Top Science Tip Sheet on heart failure, heart muscle cells, heart attack and atrial fibrillation results
Newly discovered pathway may have potential for treating heart failure - New research model helps predict heart muscle cells' impact on heart function after injury - New mass spectrometry approach generates libraries of glycans in human heart tissue - Understanding heart damage after heart attack and treatment may provide clues for prevention - Understanding atrial fibrillation's effects on heart cells may help find treatments - New research may lead to therapy for heart failure caused by ICI cancer medication

Molecular imaging identifies link between heart and kidney inflammation after heart attack
Whole body positron emission tomography (PET) has, for the first time, illustrated the existence of inter-organ communication between the heart and kidneys via the immune system following acute myocardial infarction.

Muscle protein abundant in the heart plays key role in blood clotting during heart attack
A prevalent heart protein known as cardiac myosin, which is released into the body when a person suffers a heart attack, can cause blood to thicken or clot--worsening damage to heart tissue, a new study shows.

New target identified for repairing the heart after heart attack
An immune cell is shown for the first time to be involved in creating the scar that repairs the heart after damage.

Heart cells respond to heart attack and increase the chance of survival
The heart of humans and mice does not completely recover after a heart attack.

A simple method to improve heart-attack repair using stem cell-derived heart muscle cells
The heart cannot regenerate muscle after a heart attack, and this can lead to lethal heart failure.

Mount Sinai discovers placental stem cells that can regenerate heart after heart attack
Study identifies new stem cell type that can significantly improve cardiac function.

Fixing a broken heart: Exploring new ways to heal damage after a heart attack
The days immediately following a heart attack are critical for survivors' longevity and long-term healing of tissue.

Heart patch could limit muscle damage in heart attack aftermath
Guided by computer simulations, an international team of researchers has developed an adhesive patch that can provide support for damaged heart tissue, potentially reducing the stretching of heart muscle that's common after a heart attack.

How the heart sends an SOS signal to bone marrow cells after a heart attack
Exosomes are key to the SOS signal that the heart muscle sends out after a heart attack.

Read More: Heart Attack News and Heart Attack Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.