A combination of methotrexate, sulfasalazine, and hydroxychloroquine shows to have a positive effect on lipid profiles over a two year span in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) compared to treatment with methotrexate alone or with a biologic agent.

This finding comes from a two-year clinical trial of 755 patients with early RA called Treatment of Early Aggressive Rheumatoid Arthritis or TEAR. According to MedPage Today, researchers found higher HDL levels (the “good” cholesterol) and lower levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in early RA patients treated with triple therapy compared to those taking methotrexate alone or in combination with Enbrel.

Per the study authors, there are limitations to the study worth noting, including that results may not apply to a different RA population with more established disease or with lower levels of disease activity.

In the article, study researchers recommend not focusing solely on the lipid changes when treating RA, and suggest providers “prescribe anti-inflammatory therapies based on contemporary RA treatment algorithms and to not be overly influenced by differential lipids changes with distinct therapies.”

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