What Is Rheumatoid Awareness Day?

January 14, 2014 in Advocacy

The first Rheumatoid Awareness Day was Feb 2, 2013. It is impossible to measure its full impact, but tens of thousands of people participated in live online events or commemorated the day with local educational or fundraising events. If Rheumatoid Awareness Day is new to you or your organization, here’s a summary of the purpose of the occasion. Click HERE to see how you can participate in Rheumatoid Awareness Day.

Rheumatoid Awareness Day Graphic with Groundhog

Rheumatoid Awareness Day is February 2nd!

Rheumatoid Awareness Day is observed 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 costs and research funding.

One goal of this initiative is to overcome the misconception that rheumatoid disease is a form of arthritis. While the disease usually affects joints, the disease process is not related to osteoarthritis. RPF founder Kelly Young points out, “Joint inflammation is a prominent symptom of this disease for most patients, but it’s a disservice to refer to it as merely a type of arthritis.” She explains, “Patients describe the effects of rheumatoid lung disease even when their joints feel better than they have in years.”

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[1]. Rheumatoid disease affects about one percent of the world’s population, and Mayo Clinic says lifetime risk of the disease is 3.6 percent for women and 1.7 percent for men[2].

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[3]. Rheumatoid patients have higher incidence of stroke and atrial fibrillation[4] in addition to the specific effects of the disease upon the heart itself[5]. A study conducted by Mayo Clinic[6] reported that rheumatoid patients were twice as likely to experience silent heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths.

Rheumatoid Awareness Day is observed with campaigns for raising awareness and educating about rheumatoid disease. The patient community and the public are encouraged to get involved by sharing educational resources, promoting awareness messages via social media, joining live online chats, and participating in fundraising.

[1] 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
[2] Mayo Clinic. 2011. Mayo Clinic Determines Lifetime Risk of Adult Rheumatoid Arthritis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2011-rst/6137.html?rss-feedid=1
[3] 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
[4] 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
[5] Young, K. 2011. Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior. 20 Facts About Rheumatoid Heart Disease. http://rawarrior.com/20-facts-about-rheumatoid-heart-disease/
[6] 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

PRESS RELEASES FROM RHEUMATOID AWARENESS DAY 2013

FIRST AWARENESS DAY FOR RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS ESTABLISHED BY RHEUMATOID PATIENT FOUNDATION

FIRST-EVER RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS DAY, FEB. 2, BRINGING THOUSANDS TOGETHER

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