Wed, Feb 22, 2017 | updated 11:41 AM IST

Immunotherapy cuts heart risk in rheumatoid arthritis

Updated: Jul 10, 2016 11:26 IST

Washington D.C, Jul 10 (ANI): Those with rheumatoid arthritis, immunotherapy is your go-to treatment as according to a recent study, it can keep cardiovascular risk at bay.

The study showed that the combination of two extra-low dose anticytokine drugs reduced rheumatoid arthritis disease activity and cardiovascular events.

Researcher Aida Babaeva of the Volgograd State Medical University said, "Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor (TNF) and interferon (IFN), which normally protect the body, attack healthy cells. Patients have painful and inflamed joints. They are also at increased cardiovascular risk, particularly if their rheumatoid arthritis is not controlled."

The research investigated the impact of the combination of drugs on cardiovascular events. It included 68 patients who had suffered from active rheumatoid arthritis for at least five years. Patients were randomised to receive the combination of anti-TNF alpha and anti-IFN plus standard disease-modifying therapy (38 patients) or placebo plus standard therapy (30 patients). During the three year follow up period the investigators monitored rheumatoid arthritis disease activity and cardiovascular events.

Patients taking the combination of anticytokines had a lower rheumatoid arthritis disease activity score, as measured by the DAS28,2 and more dramatic decreases in IL-1, IL-6 and TNFalpha than the group on standard therapy alone.

The incidence of cardiovascular events (unstable angina, severe hypertensive crisis, and deterioration of chronic heart failure) was more than double in the group on conventional disease-modifying drugs alone compared to those also taking the combination of anticytokines.

Babaeva concluded: "We do not think that all patients with rheumatoid arthritis should be treated with this combination. In patients with highly active disease, the standard biologics are better at preventing severe complications such as progressive joint destruction and/or systemic manifestations (vasculitis, uveitis, involvement of internal organs). We recommend this new approach for preventing cardiovascular events in patients with moderate disease activity who are not receiving the standard biologics and who do not have severe complications."

The study has been presented at the meeting Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology (FCVB). (ANI)

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