US Pharm. 2008;33(4):9.

An international team of researchers has concluded that patients who are prescribed drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis could be lowering their chances of heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, and colleagues in Argentina, Europe, and the U.S. have analyzed data from the QUEST-RA study. According to their findings, when adjusted for age, sex, disease activity, and traditional risk factors such as lack of exercise, smoking, diabetes, and high cholesterol levels, taking methotrexate--the most widely used disease-modifying antirheumatic drug--for one year was associated with an 18% reduction in risk of heart attack and an 11% decrease in the risk of stroke. These statistics are significant because rheumatoid arthritis is a known risk factor for hardening of the arteries, which can lead to stroke and heart attacks in sufferers 10 years earlier than in people without the condition. Before reaching their conclusions, the investigators studied 4,363 patients from 48 sites in 15 countries.

To comment on this article, contact