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New study: These arthritis medications cut the risk of dementia in half


Arthritis drug protects against dementia

Dementia affects more and more people in Germany. Researchers have now found that medications to treat rheumatoid arthritis can be used as a promising new treatment option for people with dementia.

The researchers at the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Center found that certain medications to treat rheumatoid arthritis could also help with dementia. The doctors published their results in the English-language journal "Alzheimer’s And Dementia: Translational Research And Clinical Interventions".

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

The experts noted in their research that rheumatoid arthritis patients taking anti-inflammatory drugs are at half the risk of developing Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. The disease mostly affects the inner skin (synovial membrane) of joints, tendon sheaths and bursa. There is currently no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but some medications can at least help relieve pain and reduce inflammation and damage to the joints, the doctors say.

Medications for rheumatoid arthritis protect against heart diseases

Because inflammation is a hallmark of many other conditions, including dementia, drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and reduce inflammation can also be beneficial for patients with other conditions, the authors explain. This has already been found in the treatment of patients with heart disease, in which the first promising results are currently being investigated in large-scale clinical studies.

DMARDs protect against dementia

In the current study, the researchers noted that anti-inflammatory drugs (DMARDs), especially methotrexate, appeared to protect against dementia. For the investigation, physicians analyzed anonymous data from the patient records of more than 5,800 people with rheumatoid arthritis in the UK. They compared 3,876 patients taking DMARDs with 1,938 patients who did not take such drugs. The experts found that people taking the anti-inflammatory medication were at about half the risk of developing dementia. The research was conducted under the direction of Professor Chris Edwards from the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Center.

More research is needed

This discovery shows that so-called DMARDs represent a potential new dementia treatment and supports investigations in further clinical studies. This can help determine if these drugs can really be used to prevent or treat dementia.

Improved treatment of dementia in sight?

"Although drugs are available that can temporarily reduce some symptoms or slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, there is currently no cure for the disease," study author Professor Chris Edwards said in a press release from the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Center. The current study shows a positive correlation between patients taking arthritis medication and the risk of developing dementia. The risk may be reduced by up to 50 percent, the expert adds. This could lead to improved treatment of the neurological disorder. (as)

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