Links between arthritis therapy and heart disease improvements

Drugs used to treat initial signs of rheumatoid arthritis also improve the early stages of heart disease, according to new research.

Having rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is known to at least double the chances of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) - one of the main causes of death and disability in the UK - because of links to atherosclerosis (a build-up of plaque inside the arteries), heart failure and strokes.

A two-year study by the University of Leeds has for the first time linked treatment of RA with improvements in vascular stiffness – an indicator of CVD.

The findings could influence treatment of the UK’s 400,000 RA sufferers - particularly those who have just developed the condition - and highlights the need to consider the increased risk factor of CVD for those patients.

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