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Do Statins Decrease Death Risk for People with PsA?

Study results presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington, D.C. indicated that statin use could cut the risk of all-cause mortality for individuals with certain arthritic conditions. Statins are a class of medications that are generally used for lowering cholesterol. However, they also have anti-inflammatory properties that may go beyond just reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. The observational study, conducted through Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and led by Dr. Amar Oza, showed that statins reduced mortality rates by as much as a third for individuals with PsA and ankylosing spondylitis (inflammation of joints in the spine, among other areas).

Link between PsA and cardiovascular conditions

Both PsA and ankylosing spondylitis have been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions and death from cardiovascular disease. However, the anti-inflammatory properties of statins may help reduce the cardiovascular complication risks that come along with these conditions.

In the study, researchers used a UK population database to identify 2,904 individuals with PsA or ankylosing spondylitis who began using statins between 2000 and 2014. These 2,904 individuals were then matched with similarly diagnosed individuals who did not take statins. Both groups had a mean follow-up of around five years. Of those taking statins, only 271 died due to cardiovascular complications in comparison to 376 of those who never began taking the medication.

Statins can cut risk of mortality by a third

This difference indicated that those who have  these specific kinds of arthritis could cut their risk of mortality by a third – if they take statins. Additionally, when comparing these results to previously published population-based cohort studies, it seems that the risk reduction is even greater for those with PsA and ankylosing spondylosis than those with other rheumatic conditions, especially rheumatoid arthritis.

Of the results, lead author Dr. Amar Oza states, “Given the increased risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease compared to the general population, patients with seronegative spondyloarthropathies like ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis may benefit from the dual anti-inflammatory and lipid-lowering properties of statins, perhaps even more than in the general population. This observational study raises the possibility that clinicians may have a lower threshold for starting their patients on statins to mitigate this mortality risk. To that effect, it sets the groundwork for potential clinical trials to come, which will provide high-level evidence about the impact statins have on their health.”

Whiteman, Honor. “Statins could cut death risk by a third for some arthritis patients.” Medical News Today. 13 Nov 2016. Available from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314070.php.

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