October 8, 2008

Arthritis Patients May Benefit From Cardiac Drugs

By Priya Yadav

Chandigarh: There is new hope for patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Progression of the disease and its consequent damage can be checked by using inexpensive drugs hitherto used to treat cardiac ailments.

This hope has sprung from a new research conducted by Punjabi University's department of drug research and pharmaceuticals along with a city based doctor and PGI. A progressive illness, that has the potential to cause joint destruction and functional disability ; rheumatoid arthritis is known to make the patient predisposed to cardiac ailments and vascular disorders . Speaking to TOI, Ashit Syngle , who worked on the research said, "The conventional form of treatment with drugs is known to have its limitations since these are not effective for all patients. Instead , the new form of drugs are too expensive for the Indian population to afford besides being an injectable therapy."

The important part, stresses Syngle, is the fact that it is imperative to check progression of the disease to arrest patients' inevitable march to cardiac ailments and its degenerative effect on other organs of the body. Patients suffering from the autoimmune disease present with gnarled fingers, fused bones, nearly deformed toes devastates their normal routine besides causing huge pain. The new form of drugs which have hit the market are exorbitantly priced ranging from Rs 1 lakh a year to Rs 6 lakh a year.

The study, headed by Syngle along with experts at Punjabi University and PGI, observed the impact of a spironolactone, a drug commonly used for cardiac ailments , on a group of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis who were not responding to the conventional treatment.

"After three months there were 100% results, with all patients responding to varying degrees. Not only did the inflammation was reduced , but the endothelial dysfunction also decreased," observed Syngle. The study has been published in September's issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology besides being well received at the Asian Pacific League of Association of Rheumatologists held in Japan in the last week of September .

The research has the potential to relieve a large number of patients from their suffering with a simple orally administered drug. With nearly one per cent of the entire population believed to be suffering from rheumatoid arthritis the successful experiment can have huge impact.

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