The Impact of Immunosuppressive Medications on Cardiovascular Events in RA Patients
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. According to extensive evidence, the key driver for this increased risk of cardiovascular disease is the increased systemic inflammation characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis. Studies are less clear on whether medications that work to reduce RA's inflammatory symptoms provide protective benefits against cardiovascular events. Some data have suggested that the most potential biologic therapies, such as the TNF blockers, might reduce the risk of ischemic cardiovascular events.
To investigate, researchers at Harvard Medical School's Brigham and Women's Hospital compared the effects of a variety of immunosuppressive agents on cardiovascular events in a large sample of RA patients. Based on their findings, featured in the December 2006 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, TNF blockers were not associated with either a reduction or an increase in the risk of heart attack or stroke compared with the most commonly used