FIRST AWARENESS DAY FOR RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS ESTABLISHED BY RHEUMATOID PATIENT FOUNDATION
Patients Increase Public Awareness of Underestimated Disease
January 22, 2013 – Rheumatoid Patient Foundation (RPF) announces the establishment of Rheumatoid Awareness Day to be held each year on February 2, giving people with the chronic illness known as rheumatoid arthritis, or rheumatoid disease, a day of recognition. Because the disease is commonly presumed to be a type of arthritis, awareness is lacking, causing problems with disability accommodations, clinical care, healthcare reimbursement and research funding.
February 2 already boasts the observance of Groundhog Day, from which several analogies can be drawn to rheumatoid disease. “Compare disease onset to the moment the groundhog comes out of his hole to look for his shadow,” says Kelly Young, founder of the RPF. “It’s impossible to predict how aggressive the disease will be or whether treatments will be effective. The six weeks that the groundhog forecasts correspond to the short window of opportunity for people with rheumatoid disease to get early diagnosis and treatment, which has been shown to be a crucial component of positive outcome.”
Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive inflammatory disease causing damage to joint and organ tissues, resulting in severe pain, frequent disability, and increased mortality. For most patients, current treatments neither relieve all symptoms nor assure a healthy future. Remission is rare. Rheumatoid disease affects about one percent of the world’s population, with 1.6 to 2 million Americans currently diagnosed. Mayo Clinic says lifetime risk of the disease is 3.6 percent for women and 1.7 percent for men.
Rheumatoid Awareness Day comes at the start of Heart Disease Awareness month, underscoring a serious aspect of rheumatoid disease: heart involvement. Studies show that rheumatoid disease may affect the heart prior to diagnosis. Rheumatoid patients have higher incidence of stroke and atrial fibrillation in addition to the specific effects of the disease upon the heart itself. A study conducted by Mayo Clinic reported that rheumatoid arthritis patients were twice as likely to experience silent heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths.
The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation will support the first annual Rheumatoid Awareness Day with a campaign aimed at raising awareness and educating about rheumatoid disease. RPF encourages both the rheumatoid patient community and the public to get involved by sharing educational resources, promoting awareness messages via social media, participating in a live online chat and a matching donation opportunity. For information on how to support Rheumatoid Awareness Day, visit http://rheum4us.org/rheumatoid-arthritis-awareness-day/.
Rheumatoid Patient Foundation
RPF is a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with rheumatoid diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile arthritis. RPF was founded in 2011 to address significant lack of disease education, comparatively low levels of research funding, and difficulty obtaining adequate treatment. RPF is committed to creating pathways to better clinical care and disease outcomes through education, awareness, and participation in patient-centered research. For more information, visit http://rheum4us.org or follow us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/rheumatoidpatientfoundation or Twitter http://www.twitter.com/RheumPF.
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 Prince, F et al. Arthritis Research and Therapy. Sustained rheumatoid arthritis remission is uncommon in clinical practice. http://arthritis-research.com/content/pdf/ar3785.pdf
 Mayo Clinic. 2011. Mayo Clinic Determines Lifetime Risk of Adult Rheumatoid Arthritis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2011-rst/6137.html?rss-feedid=1
 Kerola, A et al. Annals of Rheumatic Diseases. 2012. Cardiovascular comorbidities antedating the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. http://ard.bmj.com/content/early/2012/11/22/annrheumdis-2012-202398.abstract
 Jesper, L et al. British Medical Journal. Risk of atrial fibrillation and stroke in rheumatoid arthritis: Danish nationwide cohort study. http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e1257
 Young, K. 2011. Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior. 20 Facts About Rheumatoid Heart Disease. http://rawarrior.com/20-facts-about-rheumatoid-heart-disease/
 Science Daily. 2005. Mayo Clinic Finds Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients At Higher Risk For Unrecognized Heart Disease And Cardiac Sudden Death. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050204121639.htm