Arthritis drug could reduce dementia risk

New research has highlighted how those on anti-inflammatory medication have approximately half the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints and affects around 400,000 people in the UK. It develops when the immune system attacks the cells that line the joints.

A team led by he NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre has analysed the records of more than 5,800 people living with the condition across the UK and found that of the 3,876 patients who took disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), particularly methotrexate, the medication had approximately half the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Professor Chris Edwards, from the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and head of the study, said: “As inflammation is a characteristic feature of many other conditions, including dementia, drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and reduce inflammation may also be beneficial for patients with other diseases. This has already been shown to be the case for treating patients with heart disease, where initial promising results are now being further investigated in large clinical trials.”

The research was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions.

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