Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Are statins good for arthritis?

Ask the doctor

Are statins good for arthritis?

Q. My rheumatoid arthritis gives me trouble in spite of my medications. I have read that statins, in addition to lowering cholesterol, also calm inflammation. Would taking a statin help my arthritis?

A. It would be wonderful to kill two birds — easing arthritis pain and protecting your heart and blood vessels — with one stone. Unfortunately, as of late 2005, it is much too early to tell if the statin drugs could someday be that stone.

Statins do more than lower cholesterol. One of their other activities is working against inflammation. As we learn more about the role of inflammation in heart disease, it may turn out that this "side job" is as important as lowering cholesterol in protecting against heart disease.

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