People suffering from certain forms of arthritis may experience considerable benefits if they take statin, a class of drug known to help control cholesterol levels in the blood.

In a new study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology last week, researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital revealed that statin drug therapy could reduce mortality risks for patients with psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis by as much as 33 percent.

Psoriatic arthritis or PsA is a chronic arthritic condition that mostly affects the skin and joints of patients. If not treated accordingly, it could lead to severe damaging of the joints.

Ankylosing spondylitis or AS, on the other hand, is a form of arthritis that manifests in the spine of sufferers and shares similar traits with rheumatoid arthritis.

Since both PsA and AS patients experience an increased risk for cardiovascular-related death, the MGH researchers wanted to find out if statins, known to reduce inflammation and lower lipids in affected areas, could be used to improve the survival of sufferers.

Statins For Arthritis Sufferers

Lead investigator Dr. Amar Oza and his colleagues examined data collected from PsA and AS sufferers in the United Kingdom from Jan. 1, 2000 to Dec. 31, 2014.

They focused their study on different variables, such as the patients' body mass index (BMI), socioeconomic status, lifestyle factors, disease duration and period of medication use, to determine the participants' propensity scores.

The researchers discovered that, out of the total 2,904 PsA and AS patients they reviewed who started taking statins, 271 of them passed away in the course of the followup. This translates into a mean of about 5.3 years.

Meanwhile, of the 2,904 propensity-matched patients who did not undergo statin treatment, 376 of them died during the followup. This translates into a mean of about 5.15 years.

Both groups showed well-balanced baseline characteristics throughout the study period.

Oza and his team found that giving PsA and AS patients statin treatment could reduce their overall mortality rate by as much as 33 percent.

The recent findings also suggest that the relationship between taking statin medication and a general reduction in mortality risk for PsA and AS sufferers seems to be more noticeable compared to similar population-based studies involving patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Statins Can Treat Inflammation And Lower Lipids

The ability of statins to effectively treat inflammation and lower lipids could likely be the reason for such since significant benefits as these two factors are considered primary contributors to cardiovascular-related deaths.

The MGH researchers believe further studies are needed in order to determine the potential benefits of using statin treatment to prevent deaths from cardiovascular disease and other similar conditions.

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