Arthritis medication may improve early stage of heart disease. & Nbsp | & nbspPhoto Credit: & nbsp; Images
London: According to a new study, drugs used to treat the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can also improve in the early stages of heart disease.
Having rheumatoid arthritis (RA) makes at least twice the likelihood of developing heart disease (CVD) due to atherosclerosis (plaque formation inside the arteries), heart failure and stroke.
The study, published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Disease, found treatment of RA to be associated with improvements in vascular stiffness – an indicator of CVD.
“Our research shows that even in the early stages of rheumatism, vascular stiffness increases in people with more traditional CVD risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol or smoking,” study author Sven Plein told the University of Leeds. UK
For the study, the research team set out to explore a possible connection between very early signs of RA and indicators of CVD. Detailed MRI heart scans were given to 82 patients with no known heart problems.
The scan revealed the presence of increased vascular stiffness in the aorta, a gradual loss of elasticity in large arteries compared to healthy ones. It was also evidence of heart injury and changes in the wall of the left ventricle (the heart’s main) pumping chamber), suggesting an abnormality of the heart prior to RA diagnosis.
After their initial scan, 82 patients were given one of two RA drug courses. After one year of treatment, further scans were performed in 71 patients. The scan revealed that vascular stiffness of the aorta (main artery) was improved during RA therapy.
“Rheumatoid arthritis treatment improved vascular stiffness, regardless of how the patient responded to RA medication and independently of vascular stiffness in response to RA treatment. These improvements were unexpected,” Plin said.
Research highlights the importance of early treatment of RA to reduce the risk of developing RAD.
The study’s researcher Maya Butch said, “Identifying patients at the early stage of RA with the most risk of CVD is important to inform management strategy.”
“The benefits of RA treatment over CVD go beyond traditional suppression of inflammation,” Butch said.