Does Lipitor Help Rheumatoid Arthritis?

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Ask the experts

I've been taking Lipitor to lower my cholesterol. Someone told me that Lipitor may help me with my rheumatoid arthritis, too. Is this true?

Doctor's response

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease characterized by chronic inflammation. The joint lining tissue (synovium) of patients with rheumatoid arthritis features intense immune activity. Evidence suggests that a popular class of cholesterol treatment drugs, called statins, slightly change immune functions and may have a beneficial effect on patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Lipitor is a statin drug used to treat elevated blood cholesterol. It seems that statins have an effect that blocks certain chemical messengers of inflammation, called interleukins. Reducing the effect of specific interleukins in inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis is currently a very active area of medical research. More research in this area is still required to determine the exact role that statins could play in treating rheumatoid arthritis.

I should also point out that patients with rheumatoid arthritis are known to have a higher than average potential to develop heart disease. It is for this reason that doctors treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis are especially diligent about controlling their elevated cholesterol levels. It is very possible that your Lipitor may be beneficial to you in more than one way.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


"Statins: Actions, side effects, and administration"

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Reviewed on 8/15/2017