A recent study has determined that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients that have prolonged use of drugs such as methotrexateglucocorticoids and TNF-alpha blockers to control the disease may be protecting their hearts as well.
Researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain studied data from over 4300 RA patients from 15 countries.
One finding was that traditional risk factors – high blood pressurediabetes and high cholesterol – were significant factors is increase risk for cardiovascular disease. Howeverthey found that physical inactivity and obesity were not cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Another discovery was a link between rheumatoid arthritis related conditionssuch as inflammation of blood vesselsand heart attack. Andas previously foundmen have a higher risk for cardiovascular event.
After taking these factors into account the research team concluded that long term use of certain arthritis drugsspecifically methotrexateleflunomidesulfasalazineglufoforticoids and biologic agentssignificantly lowered the risk of death from a cardiovascular event.
According to study lead Dr. Antonio Naranjo: “Methotrexateother disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and biologic agents could reduce the extra risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke that patients with rheumatoid arthritis havethrough the control of inflammation.”
Dr. Naranjo also says that this study indicates that RA patients need to control both the traditional cardiovascular risk factors as well as the inflammatory activity of rheumatoid arthritis.