Trial Underway to Reduce Stroke Deaths in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients
Posted Jan 18 2010 6:00am
Last month I wrote about a large scale analysis of the incidence of stroke in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients in the U.K. The conclusion of this research was that RA patients have a significantly higher risk of stroke than the general population. That study included diagnosis and prescription information of over 130,000 people in the U.K.
There is a new, 5 year, multi-center trial aims to find out if taking a particular cholesterol-lowering statin, called atorvastatin, will reduce the number of patients that die from heart attacks and strokes. The
£1.1million ($2.2 million) trial is being funded by the British Heart Foundation and the Arthritis Research Campaign.
The study, which started recruiting in September, will include 3,500 participants from across the U.K. Over the next 15 months over 40 rheumatology departments across the U.K. will be recruiting patients over the age of 40 who are not currently taking statins. They will be given either a statin or a placebo to compliment their current RA treatment. They will also receive counseling on good health habits to reduce the risk of heart disease such as exercise, and stopping smoking.
Statins are known to reduce the LDL, or “bad”, cholesterol which plays an important role in both the primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, stroke and peripheral artery disease
The trial’s lead investigator, Dr. George Kitas of Russell’s Hall Hospital in Dudley, West Midlands, says: “If this trial works as expected, we could be looking at a reduction of the absolute risk of cardio-vascular death rate in RA patients by ten to 15 per cent, or the relative risk by 35 to 40 per cent, which is significant.”