RA, Cardiovascular Disease and Treatments

November 19, 2007 by  
Filed under ARTHRITIS

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Apparently, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with cardiovascular disease.

According to a Mayo Clinic team, people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have a higher risk for developing heart disease than the general population.

However, it is difficult to identify which patients are at increased risk.

Previous research by the Mayo Clinic team identified a link between rheumatoid arthritis patients and increased risk for heart disease. A major challenge for physicians is detection and prevention of heart disease in rheumatoid arthritis patients who show no symptoms of heart disease. The goal of this latest study is to find a way to detect the risk of heart disease earlier in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Mayo Clinic researchers estimated the 10-year absolute risk of cardiovascular disease in a group of 553 patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and compared them with 574 patients of the same age and gender who did not have rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers collected detailed information about all study subjects’ cardiac events and their traditional cardiovascular risk factors: diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index and smoking.

Well, definitely, it will be great if there is a way to detect heart disease in RA patients that do not show early symptoms.

BUT, there are therapies or treatment that will reduce the risk of heart attack in RA patients.

Now, according to a new study led by Gurkirpal Singh, MD (adjunct clinical professor of medicine, division of gastroenterology and hepatology, Stanford University School of Medicine; chief science officer, Institute of Clinical Outcomes Research and Education; Stanford University School of Medicine), the use of combination TNF-inhibitor-methotrexate therapy in people with rheumatoid arthritis was associated with a risk of heart attack that was reduced by 80 percent in comparison with those using methotrexate alone.

Researchers recently studied the risk of heart attack in patients using a TNF-inhibitor (a drug that blocks cytokines and can reduce pain, morning stiffness and swollen joints in RA), methotrexate (a drug used to treat RA by blocking the metabolism of cells) and other DMARDs (a category of drugs used in many autoimmune disorders to slow down the disease progression) in a large population of patients with RA—many of whom were also taking aspirin.

Researchers found that patients on a combination of TNF-inhibitors with methotrexate treatment had a heart attack risk of only 20 percent of the risk compared to patients taking methotrexate alone.

However, there was no statistical difference seen among patients who were taking TNF-inhibitors alone, TNF-inhibitors with other DMARDs, other DMARD therapies without methotrexate, or a combination of DMARDs and methotrexate.

Prevention is almost always a lot better than treating any serious condition. BUT, if it cannot be prevented, it is always good to know that better (safer not only effective) therapies are coming out of new research studies.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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