Do statin drugs improve rheumatoid arthritis?

May 13 08:53 2007 Nathan Wei, MD Print This Article

Statins may help slightly reduce disease activity in patients with RA who are treated in a community setting, according to a recently published study.

Data from randomized trials and experimental studies have suggested a potentially beneficial effect of statin therapy on disease activity among patients with RA.

To evaluate this hypothesis in a community treatment setting,Guest Posting researchers examined data from 4,152 patients with RA who were part of a population in a single-institution, observational study known as IORRA.  Of the total study population, 279 patients (6.7%) were taking statins.  Outcomes for these patients were compared with those for patients who were not taking statins.

Compared with patients who did not take statins, statin-treated patients had significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker found in the blood.  They also had less patient reported pain, a lower pain score on physician evaluation, and fewer tender and swollen joints.

Patients who took statins were also significantly more likely to take corticosteroids and took them at significantly higher doses than did patients who did not take statins.

“The lower disease activity in patients taking statins may be affected by the greater use of corticosteroids compared to patients without statins,” the authors noted.

However, after controlling for corticosteroid dose, patients taking statins still had several significantly lower measures of disease activity, including patient’s pain assessment, physician’s assessment, and swollen joint count.

Although there was not a dramatic effect of statins in anti-RA activity, the data showed some beneficial effects of statins on the disease activity of patients with RA and support the findings from double-blind, placebo-controlled studies and experimental observations in daily rheumatology practice, the authors concluded.

(Okamoto H, Koizumi K, Kamisuji S, Inoue E, Hara M, Tomatsu T, Kamatani N, Yamanaka H. Beneficial action of statins in patients with rheumatoid arthritis in a large observational cohort. J Rheum 2007;34(5):964-8).

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Nathan Wei, MD
Nathan Wei, MD

Nathan Wei, MD FACP FACR is a rheumatologist. For more info:">Arthritis Treatment


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