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Short-term methotrexate course may lower stroke risk in RA

13 Feb 2018

Short-term treatment with methotrexate at >0.5 defined daily dose (8.75 mg/week) may help reduce the risk of ischaemic stroke in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, while hydroxychloroquine and sulfasalazine have neutral effects, a retrospective study has found.

Researchers reviewed the medical records of 7,904 RA patients and 15,808 non-RA controls sampled from the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan. They performed univariate analyses to evaluate the differences in disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) usage and demographic variables between the two patients groups, as well as Cox proportional hazard analysis and Schoenfeld residuals test to test the association between ischaemic stroke and the use of DMARDs.

The mean age of the cohort was 53 years old, and majority of RA patients (70 percent) were women. Compared with controls, RA patients had a 21-percent higher risk of ischaemic stroke (hazard ratio [HR], 1.21; 95 percent CI, 1.10–1.34; p<0.01), and this significant difference persisted throughout the 10-year period.

In the RA group, hydroxychloroquine conferred an insignificantly protective benefit for ischaemic stroke. On the other hand, sulfasalazine and methotrexate had inconsistent effects over 10 years.

“The proportional hazard assumption test of methotrexate at >0.5 defined daily dose (8.75 mg/week) was violated at a significant level after adjustment (p=0.0002),” researchers noted.

"Our results showed that methotrexate at >0.5 defined daily dose was associated with a lower risk of ischaemic stroke in the first 7 years (adjusted HR, 0.33; 0.17–0.63) and a higher risk of ischaemic stroke in the last 3 years (adjusted HR, 3.36; 1.70–6.61)," they said.

Being the most commonly used drug for RA, methotrexate has become the standard DMARD in clinical practice. However, not all patients tolerate it well or show an acceptable therapeutic response to it. Hepatotoxicity and bone marrow suppression are among the adverse effects associated with methotrexate. [BMJ 2003;326:266-267]

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Most Read Articles
Tristan Manalac, 6 days ago
Atopic dermatitis appears to impair sleep quality, but not sleep duration, in children, particularly in those with more severe diseases, according to a new study.
13 Mar 2019
Individuals following a diet low in or free of meat are at lower risk of diabetes, and this protective association is partly attributable to having a lower body mass index when compared with regular meat eaters, according to a study.
4 days ago
Drinking coffee confers benefits for recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and survival following orthotopic liver transplantation, a study has found.
13 Mar 2019
Vitamin E supplementation does not appear to contribute to blood pressure (BP) improvement, with results of a recent systematic review and meta-analysis showing decreases only in systolic (S)BP but no favourable effect on diastolic (D)BP and mean arterial pressure (MAP).