Arthritis drugs may protect the heart
A new study by Dr. Samy Suissa suggests that disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, or DMARDs, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
A new study by Dr. Samy Suissa, director of clinical epidemiology at the McGill University Health Centre's Royal Victoria Hospital, suggests that disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, or DMARDs, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
"Our study suggests that the advantages of DMARDs seem to extend beyond their disease-remitting effects and may reduce the number of acute heart attacks generally associated with this joint disorder," explained Dr. Suissa. "The reason for the decrease in heart attacks could be due to the drugs' anti-inflammatory effects or it could simply be an indirect consequence of the beneficial effect of DMARDs on cardiac risk factors in patients with rheumatoid arthritis."
The study, published in Arthritis and Rheumatism/Arthritis Care and Research, is a nested case-control analysis within a cohort of 107,908 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and spanned a period of four years, from 1999 to 2003. During this time, only 558 heart attacks were reported in this group – a significant reduction.
But Dr. Suissa and his colleagues at McGill caution that, while the reduction registered consistently across all traditional DMARDs, it did not include the new biologic DMARDs. Some data suggest that they may raise blood pressure and lipids, while other data contradict this finding.