City Hospital part of major new trial for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers

A MAJOR new clinical trial involving 50 local rheumatoid arthritis sufferers will see if taking cholesterol-busting drugs reduces the risk of death from heart attacks or strokes. Patients of the inflammatory disease are at an increased risk of dying from

A MAJOR new clinical trial involving 50 local rheumatoid arthritis sufferers will see if taking cholesterol-busting drugs reduces the risk of death from heart attacks or strokes.

Patients of the inflammatory disease are at an increased risk of dying from cardio-vascular complications compared to the general population but few are routinely prescribed statins, which lower cholesterol.

Sufferers attending St Albans and Hemel Hempstead Hospitals are being invited to join 3,800 people involved in a five-year-long nationwide trial funded by the Arthritis Research Campaign and the British Heart Foundation.

Doctors running the £1.1million trial, which is currently recruiting patients, said that if the statins were effective in reducing cardio-vascular deaths in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers as expected, then most patients with the condition should be put on the drugs as a matter of course.


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The local research team is being led by consultant rheumatologist Dr Adam Young at St Albans City Hospital and he explained that the cardio-vascular mortality in RA patients might be in part due to early and more advanced blood vessel damage due to high inflammation.

He said: "If this trial works as expected, we could be looking at a reduction of the absolute risk of cardiovascular death rate in RA patients by 10 to 15 per cent, or the relative risk by 35 to 40 per cent, which is significant."

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He also hopes that the trial will raise greater awareness of the risks of RA and how patients can change lifestyles to make their outlook better.

Over the next two years more than 60 rheumatology departments around the UK will be involved in recruiting RA patients over the age of 50 or with RA for more than 10 years, irrespective of their age, who are not currently taking a statin or do not require such therapy according to their physicians.

Further information can be found at the TRACE RA trial website at www.dgoh.nhs.uk/tracera

AN urgent care centre (UCC) will replace the existing accident and emergency department at Hemel Hempstead Hospital in October.

It will provide care for patients who arrive with accidental injuries and medical emergencies which do not need intensive or specialist care, dealing with around 65 per cent of those currently attending A and E.

It will be run by Herts GPs and clinicians from West Herts Hospitals Trust and will be open to everyone.

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