Arthritis Inflammation Increases Possibiliy of Heart Disease..

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People who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those who don’t have the condition, according to a newly published 5-year study. The results of the study have been published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Arthritis Research & Therapy. They show that RA sufferers’ higher risk results from the inflammation caused by RA. When the arthritis is treated with disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), the heart disease risk is also reduced.

The study followed over 400 people with RA for 5 years starting from the date of their diagnosis,  and tracked their RA’s progression by using chemical markers of inflammation, and evaluating physical appearance. Researchers followed treatment methods and tabulated other heart disease risk factors that are common to the whole population such as weight, blood pressure, cholesterol level, smoking, and diabetes.

Ninety-seven percent of patients had received DMARD therapy after 5 years. The medications lessened both the chemical markers caused by arthritic inflammation and the visual signs of arthritis. In addition, the participants were taking better care of themselves, as the number of smokers in the group decreased, their BMI had gone down, and their blood pressure figures lowered (this partly due to anti-high blood pressure treatments).

When the data from patients was analyzed, it was seen that new cardiovascular events such as strokes, heart attacks, or DVTs correlated with the severity of their arthritis and whether they had diabetes, high blood pressure and/or high triglycerides. The researchers found encouraging evicence that DMARDs lowered the risk for such events, while COX-2 inhibitors apparently predicted new events.

Source: August 15, 2011, Science Daily.

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