OCT 27, 2021 9:00 AM PDT

Are Certain Anti-inflammatory Agents an Effective Treatment for Heart Disease?

Worldwide, heart disease is responsible for millions of deaths and, in the US, is the most common cause of death despite ongoing advancements in therapy. Several conditions fall under the umbrella of the term ‘heart disease,’ the most common being coronary artery disease or CAD. If left untreated, CAD can lead to a heart attack that, if non-fatal, can significantly impact a patient’s quality of life. For those high-risk patients with a known history of significant cardiovascular disease, secondary preventive strategies are generally instituted to reduce mortality, improve symptoms, and minimize the risk of recurrent adverse cardiovascular events. Anti-cholesterol medications, for example, are an effective form of secondary prevention. Perhaps less well understood is the impact of anti-inflammatory agents for the treatment of heart disease.  

Emerging evidence has demonstrated that the immune system plays a significant role in the progression of heart disease. Following cardiac injury, a robust inflammatory response is produced, resulting in a cascade of cellular events and ultimately, tissue damage. As such, studies have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of specific anti-inflammatory agents in the treatment of heart disease. In August 2021, the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis investigating related studies were published. Eighteen randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were selected for review, which included over 67,000 participants in total. Primary outcome measures were recurrent heart attack and stroke, as well as all-cause mortality. Studies utilizing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications were excluded.

Although a pooled analysis of RCTs did not demonstrate a statistically significant reduction in primary endpoints with anti-inflammatory medications, subgroup analysis showed that the use of certain anti-inflammatory drugs in patients with stable heart disease reduced the risk of recurrent heart attack and the need for revascularization. Notably, Colchicine which has traditionally been used to treat certain forms of arthritis, demonstrated the most considerable benefit. 

Although these results are promising, it should be noted that the review demonstrated limitations such as a small sample size in some studies and a risk of bias in others. Not all participants with heart disease benefited from anti-inflammatory therapy, and studies also showed an increased risk of infection with such treatment. However, despite these limitations, this strong body of evidence suggests that the administration of anti-inflammatory therapy may improve long-term cardiovascular outcomes in those with heart disease and should therefore be considered in select patients following a careful analysis of individual risks and benefits.

 

Sources: CDC, Nature Reviews, Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine

About the Author
  • Dr. Christopher DiMaio is a Science Writer at Labroots. He received his MD from Penn State College of Medicine in 2014. His academic and professional interests include Neuroscience, Behavioral health, Immunology, and Healthcare improvement, among others. He is an active part of his community.
You May Also Like
JUN 15, 2021
Cardiology
A Common Thread Among 20% of Sudden Cardiac Deaths
JUN 15, 2021
A Common Thread Among 20% of Sudden Cardiac Deaths
It's estimated that 450,000 Americans die from sudden heart conditions, and in about one in ten cases, the cause is unex ...
JUL 13, 2021
Health & Medicine
The Science of Crying
JUL 13, 2021
The Science of Crying
Crying: In humans, it's the production of tears usually accompanied by facial muscle contractions and vocal sounds. ...
SEP 14, 2021
Health & Medicine
A lower sodium diet decreases the chance of stroke and other heart disease
SEP 14, 2021
A lower sodium diet decreases the chance of stroke and other heart disease
A new study found that using a low salt alternative lowered the risk of stroke and other heart disease
SEP 14, 2021
Health & Medicine
The Magnitude of Cardiovascular Disease- New Insights and Ways Forward
SEP 14, 2021
The Magnitude of Cardiovascular Disease- New Insights and Ways Forward
Among healthcare professionals, it is common knowledge that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the ...
NOV 09, 2021
Cardiology
How Mutations in a Huge Gene Can Cause a Common Heart Disorder
NOV 09, 2021
How Mutations in a Huge Gene Can Cause a Common Heart Disorder
Hundreds of thousands of Americans are thought to have dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a progressive disorder in which the ...
NOV 19, 2021
Cardiology
A New Type of Heart Cell is Identified
NOV 19, 2021
A New Type of Heart Cell is Identified
An image from Nina L. Kikel-Coury & Smith Lab shows neurons and astrocyte-like cardiac nexus glia in a zebrafish heart.
Loading Comments...