Washington, Sep 2 (ANI): Patients with two serious autoimmune disorders that cause mascular inflammation-Polymyositis (PM) and dermatomyositis (DM)- are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to a group of Montreal researchers.
This is the first time that researchers led by Dr. Christian A. Pineau, at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), have linked muscular inflammation to increased cardiovascular risk.
PM and DM are most common in women and seniors and both diseases are caused by a hyperactive immune system, which attacks healthy tissue, almost as if the body had become allergic to itself.
This results in serious inflammation of muscle tissue in the body, leading to weakness, reduced mobility and, in the case of DM, rashes. Muscles in the heart and the lungs may also be affected.
"Inflammation has recently been recognized as a risk factor - along with hypertension and cholesterol problems - for arterial diseases that can lead to events such as heart attacks," said Pineau.
"Our results indicate that the risk of heart attack is twice as high in these people as in the general population. Each year, one out of every 200 people with muscle inflammation, or myositis, succumbs to a stroke and one out of 75 to a heart attack," said Dr. Sasha Bernatsky, a study co-author.
The scientists also pointed out that the currently used immunosuppressive therapies for treating PM and DM may have a preventive effect against heart attacks.
"This is an extremely interesting finding for patients who are suffering from PM and DM but who may be hesitant to undergo this type of treatment," added Pineau.
He even noted that some patients are concerned about the possible side effects of immunosuppressive therapies, such as reduced immunity to infection.
"Sometimes patients do not want to undergo immunosuppressive treatment, which can last for years. Knowing that it has additional preventive effects may help some people decide to opt for the treatment," added Bernatsky.
Cardiovascular diseases are the world's leading cause of death, and the researchers hope that their results will provide a clearer picture of the possible benefits and possibilities of immunosuppressive treatment.
Thus, the researchers are now turning their attention to possible benefits of immunosuppressive therapy on other health risks associated with inflammatory diseases.
The results have been published in The Journal of Rheumatology. (ANI)