Taking Antimalarial Medication As Prescribed Could Reduce the Risk of Heart Attacks in People with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus

October 17, 2023 (Vancouver) People with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at a higher risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, strokes and blood clots. New Arthritis Research Canada study finds that the use of antimalarial medication often used in the treatment of these diseases, may lower this risk.

Using healthcare data from British Columbia between 1997 and 2015, this research studied how taking antimalarial medications, also known as Plaquenil, as prescribed reduces the risk of cardiovascular events among people newly diagnosed with lupus and RA. This is an additional benefit aside from controlling the disease.

The study found an overall 29% reduction of this risk relative to those who did not take antimalarial medications as prescribed. The specific risk reductions were 38% for heart attacks, 55% for strokes, and 35% for leg/lung blood clots. Additionally, this benefit was even higher in people 65 years or older.

“The results of this study show that taking antimalarial medication as prescribed does not only control lupus and rheumatoid arthritis but also prevent cardiovascular events,” said Dr. Hui Xie, senior scientist at Arthritis Research Canada. “We should strive to find better ways to help people remember to take their antimalarial medications as the doctor prescribed, especially that these patients are at higher risk of heart disease due to inflammation.”

To learn more about this study, click here.



Arthritis Research Canada is the largest clinical arthritis research institution in North America. Our mission is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis through research and engagement. Arthritis Research Canada’s scientific director, Dr. Diane Lacaille is leading a team of over 100 researchers, trainees and staff whose life-changing research is creating a future where people living with arthritis have the knowledge and tools to triumph over pain and disability. Arthritis Research Canada is now conducting arthritis research from coast to coast with centres in British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, and Nova Scotia and scientists affiliated with seven major universities: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, Université Laval, McGill University, Université de Montréal, and Dalhousie University. Arthritis Research Canada is leading research aimed at preventing arthritis, facilitating early diagnosis, finding new and better treatments, and improving quality of life.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Victoria Rubio
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Arthritis Research Canada
604-207-4010 or vrubio@arthritisresearch.ca

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