Who Gets Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis and women

About one out of every one hundred people will get some form of Rheumatoid Arthritis, from mild to severe. More than three-fourths of them will be women. This does even out some as age increases. By the age of seventy, men are almost as likely to develop RA as women.

However, men are more likely to go into remission. Age is also a factor, but not in the way it is widely thought to be. The likelihood for development is greatest between the ages of 35 and 50. When Rheumatoid Arthritis strikes an individual older than that, it is more likely that it will be a milder form of the disease, confined to a fewer number of joints, with fewer complications. The younger the onset age, the more likely the disease is to appear in its severe form.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and children

Children can also develop a type of Rheumatoid Arthritis; Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) is considered to be a separate disease. There are actually several types of JRA or Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). Patients are classified based upon the number of joints involved or whether the disease affects other body systems and organs, such as the spleen.  Many children who have JRA develop adult Rheumatoid Arthritis. The presence of antibodies such as Rheumatoid factor or anti-CCP is an indication that this is likely.

Rheumatoid Arthritis risks

There are a very few other clear statistical predictors for RA. However, genes are a part of the equation: note that Americans of certain Native American heritages are about five times as likely to develop Rheumatoid Arthritis as are other Americans. Rheumatoid Arthritis does cluster in families, but even if one parent has RA , the likelihood of developing RA is still small. Predicting is actually extremely complicated.  

Developing Rheumatoid Arthritis actually depends upon specific circumstances such as which combination of RA predictor genes is inherited and which parent passed them down. Even identical twins are only 17% concordant, according to some studies. Being seropositive ( having blood which tests positive for Rheumatoid factor) is a strong predictor of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis since only 5% of the general population are believed to be seropositive.

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