Statin therapy in the prevention and management of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease in which the immune system attacks its own joints and organs. Aside from painful symptoms, people with RA are more likely to get heart disease and die at a younger age. Statins are drugs that lower cholesterol and are used in the treatment and prevention of heart disease. Recent studies have shown that statins also have anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent the development of RA. They may also provide a benefit to people with RA by reducing heart disease and death. However, there have been no studies that have examined the association between statin use and the onset of RA, or whether statin use can lower heart disease and death in people with RA. Mary De Vera is investigating the potential role of statins in RA through a population-based analysis of British Columbians and their encounters with the health system. She is analyzing health care and prescription drug use of the general BC adult population to compare rates of new RA cases between statin users and non-users. She will use similar analysis in adults with RA to compare the rates of heart disease and deaths between statin users and non-users. By learning about the relationships between statin use and RA, this study has important implications for informing and improving care for people with RA. In addition, this study could provide information that will lead to a better understanding of how this devastating disease may be prevented.