TNF Inhibitors Reduce Heart Attack Risk in Inflammatory Arthritis (RA)

Study in 14,000 RA patients suggests that TNF Inhibitor medications reduce the risk of heart attacks.

by Dr. C.H. Weaver M.D. updated 2/2019

In a study of more than 14,000 people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), use of biologic drugs known as TNF inhibitors reduced the likelihood of a heart attack. These results were presented at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

People with RA have a higher risk of heart attack than the general population, possibly due to the inflammation associated with RA. TNF inhibitors are intended to control inflammation, and may reduce the risk of heart attack. TNF inhibitors include Enbrel® (etanercept), Remicade® (infliximab), Humira® (adalimumab), Cimzia® (certolizumab), and Simponi® (golimumab).

To assess the effect of TNF inhibitors on the likelihood and severity of a heart attack, researchers in the UK collected information about more than 11,000 RA patients who were treated with a TNF inhibitor and more than 3,000 RA patients who were treated with a non-biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD).

  • Compared with RA patients treated with non-biologic DMARDs, RA patients who were treated with a TNF inhibitor were 39% less likely to have a heart attack.
  • Among the RA patients who had a heart attack, the severity of the heart attack did not vary significantly by type of RA treatment.

These results suggest that TNF inhibitors reduce the likelihood—but possibly not the severity—of heart attacks in people with RA.

Learn more about the risk of heart disease and other extra-articular manifestations.

Reference:

  1. Low ASL et al. Incidence and Severity Of Myocardial Infarction In Subjects Receiving Anti Tumour Necrosis Factor Drugs For Rheumatoid Arthritis: Results From Linking the British Society For Rheumatology Biologics Register For Rheumatoid Arthritis and Myocardial Ischaemia National Audit Project. Presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology. San Diego, CA. October 26-30, 2013. Abstract 2760.
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