Blood Clots in Legs

Anyone can develop a dangerous blood clot, but people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) face a higher risk than most. Research has found that RA patients may be two to three times more likely than people without this rheumatic disease to develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a type of clot that blocks blood flow in the legs and may become life-threatening if it breaks off and travels to the lungs (where it is then called a pulmonary embolism).

While merely having RA can raise the risk of blood clots, studies have also suggested that RA patients with active disease are far more apt to experience blood clots compared to those whose disease is in remission.

That means that being on an effective treatment that is controlling your RA inflammation might help reduce your risk of this potentially serious complication.

According to a new study, presented during the European E-Congress of Rheumatology 2020, held virtually by the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), RA patients who use TNF inhibitor biologics are significantly less likely than those using conventional disease-modifying medications (DMARDs)  to develop a dangerous blood clot.

In fact, TNF inhibitors nearly halved the risk of major venous thromboembolism compared with conventional DMARDs.

This finding was based on an analysis of a large group of RA patients in Germany who used a TNF inhibitor or other biologic drug between 2009 and 2019. Those included in this study were put on a biologic after failing to improve enough on a conventional DMARD like methotrexate.

“IL-6 inhibitors [another kind of biologic] also probably have a similar effect, but the study was not powered for this. But it showed that biologics are better than traditional drugs [at reducing dangerous blood clots],” according to John Isaacs, PhD, MBBS, EULAR Scientific Committee Chair, in a EULAR presentation, reported Healio Rheumatology. “This is probably because they are better at reducing inflammation.”

“For patients with an increased risk of thrombosis, alternative treatment with TNF inhibitors, and possibly other biologic drugs, should be considered instead of standard [conventional] DMARD treatment,” study co-author Anja Strangfeld, of the German Rheumatism Research Centre, said in a press release about the research.

Found This Study Interesting? Get Involved

If you are diagnosed with arthritis or another musculoskeletal condition, we encourage you to participate in future studies by joining CreakyJoints’ patient research registry, ArthritisPower. ArthritisPower is the first-ever patient-led, patient-centered research registry for joint, bone, and inflammatory skin conditions. Learn more and sign up here.

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