Recent research in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at 10,000 patients who had had a heart attack AND a positive hsCRP result. (This is a blood test for inflammation.)
All of the patients received high doses of statins, which is the present standard of care, then they were split into two groups. Half of the patients received an injection every three months of a drug called Canakinumab, the other half received a placebo injection of normal saline. This trial went on for four years.
Canakinumab is a form of anti-inflammatory medication. It’s used predominately in those with rheumatoid arthritis. But according to the research, when you give it to people with heart attack risk you get some interesting results:
- 15% reduction in risk of a cardiovascular event like a fatal or non-fatal heart attack or stroke
- 30% reduction in the need for expensive interventional procedures like bypasses or stents
- No change in death rates in the 2 groups.
You can read some mainstream coverage of the news here, including the impact on cancer rates.
The short story? Reducing inflammation is good for your health, in particular your heart.
What’s the Catch?
All of this sounds like good news, and in theory, it is. But nothing comes for free. The problem with Canakinumab is that it decreases inflammation by suppressing the immune system. That means patients who take it may be more susceptible to infections, require increased healing time if injured.
Enter the Better News
Chronic inflammation is often lifestyle-related. A poor diet, being sedentary, being over-stressed and under-slept, smoking and/or exposures to other toxins—all of these things contribute to your overall inflammatory set point. And the magic of lifestyle issues is that they can often be fixed without medication.
It stands to reason that dealing with and improving your inflammatory lifestyle challenges would be helpful in decreasing inflammation. If you could reduce your risk without the need for intense anti-inflammatory medicines that suppress your immune system, wouldn’t you want to?
The starting point is easy. Finding out if inflammation is a problem for you is as simple as a quick and inexpensive blood test called hsCRP–the same one used in the study. All you need to do is get started!
For information on hsCRP testing or inflammation reduction, book online or call 705-444-5331.