Study finds cholesterol-lowering drugs can slow damage to knee joints

A recent Monash University trial on the effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) for osteoarthritis of the knee found that, although not an effective treatment for this condition, it had the benefit further slow the progression of damage to the knee joint.

The exciting secondary finding from the randomized, placebo-controlled trial found that statins slowed the progression of knee damage and participants with healthier knee joints were less likely to develop bone marrow damage, often a early indicator of knee abnormalities associated with pain and joint damage.

The results have now been published in the journal American College of Rheumatology.

Lead author and rheumatologist Professor Flavia Cicuttini of Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine says statins are commonly used to prevent conditions such as atherosclerosis, a condition caused by plaque buildup in the arteries. This can lead to heart attacks, strokes and also damage to the knee joints due to reduced blood supply.

“Based on the results of the healthier subgroup of our trial, it may be that widespread use of statins in the management of cardiovascular disease also has a beneficial effect on the knees by protecting them from knee joint damage” , said Professor Cicuttini.

Osteoarthritis of the knee is a common cause of knee pain in people over the age of 40. There is currently no treatment to slow its progression. So, as their condition worsens, patients may need knee replacement surgery.

“Often, knee pain can be a warning sign of other potential health problems. If you experience knee pain, see your GP. Have your blood pressure, weight and cholesterol checked. knee can be an opportunity for a health check that will benefit the knees, as well as general health since people with osteoarthritis are at twice the risk of heart disease, says Professor Cicuttini.

Read the full article in the journal American College of Rheumatology titled: Effect of atorvastatin on knee cartilage volume in patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis: results of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. DOI: 10.1002/art.41760

/Public release. This material from the original organization/authors may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors.

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