Statins may lead to the same level of cardiovascular benefits for patients with rheumatoid arthritis as other individuals, according to a large clinical trial that was recently published in Arthritis & Rheumatology.
 
Statins are known to help prevent cardiovascular events in certain high-risk individuals by lowering LDL cholesterol, but it has been unclear whether the medication is safe and effective in patients with inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Patients who suffered from this condition are approximately 50% more likely to experience cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke.
 
To evaluate the drug’s safety and efficacy, investigators designed the Trial of Atorvastatin for the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Events in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (TRACE RA), a multi-center, randomized, double-blind trial comparing the statin atorvastatin with placebo, according to the press release.
 
The trial included approximately 3000 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who were over 50 years of age or who had rheumatoid arthritis for more than 10 years without clinical atherosclerosis, diabetes, or myopathy. Patients were randomized to receive atorvastatin 40 mg daily or placebo.
 
At the end of the trial, the study showed that patients taking atorvastatin had significantly lower LDL cholesterol as well as significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, compared with patients taking placebo. Adverse events in the atorvastatin and placebo groups were similar.
 
The study authors recommend that patients with rheumatoid arthritis be prescribed statins according to national or local guidelines for managing cardiovascular risk in the general population.