Arthritis drug heart risks ‘could be avoidable’

5 July 2013

The higher risk of heart attacks or strokes which comes with many arthritis drugs could be avoidable, according to a new study.

Vioxx, diclofenac, ibuprofen and other common drugs taken by arthritis sufferers block the enzyme COX-2, the presence of which in blood vessels has been believed to create clots and thus contribute to the higher risk of heart problems.

But research carried out on mice by a team at Imperial College London found that COX-2 is usually missing from major blood vessels, but more likely to appear in the brain, intestines, kidneys and thymus gland.

Researchers say that now they have an idea of where the drug is acting, they now have scope to develop more targeted drugs that will be safer for arthritis sufferers.

Anti-inflammatory Vioxx was withdrawn in 2004 amid fears that concerns that it came with dangerous cardiovascular side-effects. More recently, regulators have warned certain patients off diclofenac for similar reasons.

Professor Jane Mitchell of Imperial’s Faculty of Medicine says that scientists could be working on potential leads within five to ten years.

Posted by Philip Briggs

 

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