Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is a disease that can dramatically reduce the quality of life that someone has. Not only can it contribute to the formation of disabilities, but it can also cause premature mortality. Many people are familiar with the fact that RA affects joints, but it can also cause inflammation in the body’s organs.
There is no cure for RA, but new effective drugs are increasingly available to treat the disease and prevent deformed joints.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Demographics
Many of the ways to prevent pain come from proactive prevention. People with RA who are able to exercise regularly can reduce their chances of joint deformity and severe pain. Surgery and certain medications have also been shown to be effective. Who tends to suffer from this damaging condition? The demographics of RA show that certain behaviors may cause higher risk factors.
- A history of smoking is associated with an up 2.4x greater risk of developing RA when compared to the general population.
- The relationship between smoking and RA is strongest among people who are ACPA positive.
- The incidence of RA is typically two to three times higher in women than men.
- Onset rates of rheumatoid arthritis are highest in men and women when they reach the 60+ age demographic.
- There is longstanding evidence that specific HLA class II genotypes are associated with increased risk, such as DRB1 and DR4.
- Early studies found that women who had ever used OCs had a modest to moderate decrease in risk of RA, although more recent studies have been unable to confirm this.
- There is mixed evidence of an association between Hormone Replacement Therapy and RA onset.
- Women who have never had a live birth have a slight to moderately increased risk of RA.
- RA is less common in women who breastfeed their children then the general population.
- Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome have an increased risk of RA.
The odds of developing rheumatoid arthritis are not very high. Many of the risk factors of RA are, in fact, quite easy to modify. A simple change in lifestyle habits can often be enough to reduce the chances of developing RA. This is especially beneficial to know for women since they are up to 3x more likely to see symptoms of this disease. If joints are becoming swollen and painful and other conditions, such as gout, have been eliminated from the equation, then seeking help for RA might be the next step in the diagnostic chain – especially if any of these risk factors are present.
How Prevalent Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- About 1 in every 100 people in the general population can expect to be diagnosed with RA at some point in their life.
- In 2005, there were 1.5 million adults in the United States that were diagnosed with RA.
- In 1995-2007, 41 per 100,000 people were diagnosed with RA each year.
- 54 per 100,000. That’s the diagnosis rate of RA in the 85+ age demographic.
- Women have a 4% lifetime chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis. For men, they have a 3% lifetime chance.
- In 1997, RA accounted for 22% of all deaths due to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions.
- Around 40% of all deaths in individuals with RA are attributable to cardiovascular causes, including ischemic heart disease and stroke.
- Tuberculosis may be responsible for up to 1 in 4 deaths that have RA as a contributing factor.
- In the last 10 years, emergency visits for treatment of RA symptoms has decreased by over 1 million ambulatory trips every year.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a difficult condition to manage from a treatment standpoint. It’s even more difficult to manage from a lifestyle standpoint. It can cause joints to seize up, begin to change shape, and intense pain. These conditions can even lead to premature death in severe cases. Co-existing infections aren’t the only worry that an RA suffer must look at after a diagnosis. Malignancies in the lymphatic system are also more common in people with rheumatoid arthritis and the reason behind this fact is unknown.
Does Ethnicity Play A Role in RA Development?
- Puerto Ricans report the highest age-adjusted prevalence of arthritis at 21.8%. Cubans and Cuban Americans report the lowest prevalence rates at 11.7%.
- An estimated 875,000 Hispanics in the 18-64 age demographic report arthritis-attributable symptoms.
- 20% of the people who have RA symptoms have 3 different symptoms that are associated to the disease.
- People with RA have worse functional status than those with osteoarthritis, and those without arthritis.
- Despite its low levels of prevalence, RA is the 19th most common cause for years lost to disability in the United States.
- People with RA were 40% more likely to report fair or poor general health.
- The average annual cost of treatments that someone with RA must pay: $7,000. The lifetime cost of RA is estimated to be over $100,000 in every age demographic.
There is a certain ethnic component to RA that makes it seem like it is more prevalent in some Hispanic communities, but not all of them. The reality of rheumatoid arthritis is that someone can live a healthy live, make all of the right choices, eat right, exercise daily, and still develop this disease. Sometimes people may not wish to seek out treatments for this disease because they aren’t in a place where they can afford them. Others may avoid the doctor out of denial, hoping that their symptoms will just go away. With nearly 3 million emergency trips to the hospital because of rheumatoid conditions, however, RA is not something that can be ignored. If you have just one symptom of arthritis, go talk to your doctor. It is better to seek treatment and be wrong than allow RA to continue without any treatment at all.