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Rheumatoid arthritis drug link to atherosclerosis
A leading rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drug
could promote atherosclerosis in patients, suggests research from the
The study showed RA patients taking the
tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha blocker infliximab had an increased
atherogenic index and higher level of total cholesterol a year after
treatment was initiated.
TNF-alpha blockers may add to the
increased cardiovascular risk RA patients are known to have.
Cardiovascular disease is more common in RA patients than the general
Under NICE guidance, RA patients are
offered infliximab or the TNF-alpha blocker etanercept in combination
with methotrexate if they have failed to respond to two other disease
modifying anti-rheumatic drugs including methotrexate.
study, plasma lipoprotein concentrations were assessed in 55 RA
patients and 55 controls, showing no differences between the groups'
RA patients had a disease activity score
above 3.2 and were starting therapy with infliximab.
At one year, 31 RA patients were
reassessed for lipid profile. HDL cholesterol levels were similar to
those at baseline and the atherogenic index was 4 per cent higher than
baseline. Total cholesterol had increased from 5.55 mmol/l to 6.01
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