Rheumatoid Arthritis Statistics

Rheumatoid Arthritis Statistics postSome interesting numbers came across my screen in the last couple of days. I started wondering what they would look like along side of one another.

Some Rheumatoid Arthritis statistics are better than others

  • Recent Rheumatoid Arthritis statistics now estimate that a larger number of people have RA than expected: about 1.5 million in the US.
  • Yesterday was an exciting landmark for Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior. Our Facebook Fan Page reached 5,000 fans! That has to be my favorite statistic of this year so far! I’m not happy there are so many people with RA, but I’m so glad we are finding each other.
  • This month, the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) and the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) adopted new guidelines for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Spokesmen say that this could make the diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis more likely to occur earlier. The emphasis is on the numbers here with a point system for qualifying to be considered “definite RA”, explained at this link. Numbers on test results will certainly be in the spotlight for patients hoping for that lucky 6. I’m still hoping this will be good news overall.
  • There is a shortage of rheumatologists and the numbers are shocking about how much worse it will get. In 2005, there were 4,946 rheumatologists in the US seeing adult patients. The demand for rheumatologists is expected to continue to increase. By 2025, the demand will exceed supply by 2,576 adult rheumatologists and 33 pediatric rheumatologists according to the statistics in this report in Arthritis and Rheumatism.
  • Mortality figures were discussed last week on the blog especially as relates to Rheumatoid Arthritis and heart disease. Most deaths due to RA are not recorded as such; it’s the secondary symptoms which usually are named. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across this map of Rheumatoid Arthritis statistics on mortality.
  • There is a 3 year-old press release that is still one of the most compelling Rheumatoid Arthritis statistics. According to that document, “RA is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis and costs society more than $80 billion each year. The disease affects more than one in every 200 Americans. However, research funding for RA averages as little as $25.90 per patient and remains significantly low compared to other chronic diseases that affect far fewer people like lupus, diabetes and multiple sclerosis, which average $330.00 per patient.”

Rheumatoid Arthritis statistics don’t make enough sense cents

That last one has been haunting me in light of the others. I think it may be one of those statistics that sticks with me in spite of whatever brain fog Rheumatoid Arthritis RA sends me. Does anyone else see a paradox here?

EDIT 5/18/17: Added PR Newswire link to ACR press release to replace broken link on ACR’s site.

Recommended reading:

Kelly Young

Kelly Young is an advocate providing ways for patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. Through her writing, speaking, and use of social media, she is building a more accurate awareness of Rheumatoid disease aka Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creating ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and bringing recognition and visibility to the Rheumatoid patient journey. In 2009, Kelly created Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior, a comprehensive website about RA of about 950 pages and writes periodically for other newsletters and websites. Kelly served on the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Advisory Board. There are over 42,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook Fan page. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is the mother of five, a home-schooler, Bible teacher, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. You can also connect with Kelly by on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She has lived over nine years with unrelenting Rheumatoid disease. See also http://www.rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

14 thoughts on “Rheumatoid Arthritis Statistics

  • August 24, 2010 at 7:34 am
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    As I read the point on the Mortality rate, I thought of my Dad who died exactly a year ago this month. He had RA but the death the doctors say was heart failure. He had RA for 20 years-the exact age I am now. It certainly bothers me that I might live only 20 more years and have to suffer with this stuff. My prayers are that even with the low research money that something will be found to stop this awful disease. I also think it is very interesting that the US tops the number of deaths from RA-just wonder if it could our lifestyle-probably.
    Thank you, Kelly, for all the hard work you put into this blog and for keeping us so well informed-You are a Godsend!
    Kristi

    Reply
    • August 24, 2010 at 8:43 am
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      Dear Kristi, I don’t know if you read last week, but be sure to pay attention to as much Preventive Care as possible to keep yourself as well as possible. Your dad’s story is typical. Like Char said in her onset story, we ARE going to change the face of this disease and make a difference for our children. This has to change. You are a Godsend, too. :heart:

      Reply
  • August 24, 2010 at 10:52 am
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    Kelly,

    Oh the woes of funding, research and education/awareness campaigns. An influential factor in what labs research and study is what can they get funding for. A majority of the funding for academic labs and smaller biotechs comes from government sources like the NIH and private sources like charitable foundations and private investors. Capital is made available through advocacy groups and public support. You really need to hit on all three aspects of this to make real change in the research dollars spent on RA research. Perhaps the major arthritis foundations could take some notes from the success of other influential foundations like the Komen foundation in raising the profile of RA in the public’s mind.

    From all my reading on RA blogs and patient stories, it seems like there is a major problem with education on RA and its perception in the minds of the general public. All the posts on insensitivity to the struggles of patients, the perceptions that this is an “old person’s disease”, the confusion between RA and OA, etc. really does our cause a disservice. Perhaps fixing this would be the best place to start to make real change. Blogs like yours help, but we need to think bigger and reach more people.

    Reply
    • August 24, 2010 at 11:45 am
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      There is a disadvantage to me not knowing who you are or what your goals are. However, if you have read much of this website, it’s clear that that (what you say must be done) is my intention. This site has been created as a platform to approach those fronts.

      We know that the AF is not going to “save” us. It seems to be to their advantage to perpetuate the status quo described in your last paragraph. Why don’t you search them on this site to look at some of the things they have said about RA?

      Reply
      • August 24, 2010 at 12:44 pm
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        I’m a recently diagnosed patient with RA and I’m pretty new to all of this. I’m also a scientist that has spent their entire career researching drug targets and pathways looking for treatments for diseases. I found your blog one day and other blogs say that yours is a very good one. So I look at it a few times a week and have posted comments a couple of times. I’ve read a lot of your posts, but I must say that I haven’t studied them intently. So forgive me if I mentioned something you might have already stated. My main goal is control of my disease and to get a better understanding of what is happening to me. I have no ulterior motive other than sharing my opinions and knowledge when I think I can add something to the conversation.

        Reply
        • August 24, 2010 at 3:35 pm
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          There are about 460 pages on this website, so if you’re new, I completely understand you haven’t made it all the way through. I hope we can talk more after you’ve had a look. Also, here’s something you might have a look at to get an idea about how I view our situation (as RA patients). Also, maybe the About pages and like I said, search the AF in my search box. They were the ones, for example, who published the “hypochondriasis” stuff.

          I didn’t mean to sound harsh. I’ve worked more than full time for about a year and a half on this project. I don’t get paid. It costs me. What you see here is only what is above the surface. I feel like I’ve given my life to this project (after raising my sons of course).

          Reply
    • August 24, 2010 at 11:08 pm
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      You know when I reread my post I see that I made a mistake with one of my thoughts. What I intended to say about the patient stories and misperceptions by the public was not that these things do a disservice to our cause but that the fact that there are so many of these demonstrates that most people don’t know much about RA and this lack of education for people is he disservice. The stories by patients really help to raise awareness.

      Reply
      • August 25, 2010 at 8:21 pm
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        They do, yes. That is one purpose of the Onset Story project on this site. You will see it stated there – to raise awareness and to inform science as well as to help one another. Thank you for clarifying.

        Reply
  • August 24, 2010 at 7:21 pm
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    When I was first diagnosed, 20 + years ago, I looked into the AF. What I found was an organization that spent more money trying to make money than to do research. I’m not sure if that has changed but looking at the magazine…..well. I wish there was somewhere else to donate that would truly look for a cure and an elevation of awareness of this disease. I know some people swear by the AF but I don’t get much from them.

    Reply
    • August 24, 2010 at 9:06 pm
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      Mary, I hear this all the time from people. At first I was afraid to say it out loud, but I’m not sure why. The AF is not going to change how they deal with RA. I have talked to too many people who have tried to deal with that problem. (Please see next comment.)

      Reply
  • August 24, 2010 at 9:08 pm
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    Hey ya’ll!

    There *are* other places to donate! Here are 2 good ideas: (1) Arthritis Introspective (AI). They train small groups and sponsor them all over the country. And

    (2)This website. I work for full-time here and running the site *costs* me money. Only a tiny handful of people have ever donated to the site – including AI, by the way. O:-)

    Reply
  • August 24, 2010 at 10:00 pm
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    Thanks to Carol who sends this comment to us via Facebook: “I did a quick search on the NIH site for clinical studies. Worldwide RA has 295 studies — breast cancer has 3,789.” Carol says she used clinicaltrials.gov for these stats. Here’s the link. Okay so EIGHT PERCENT as many?

    Reply
  • August 28, 2010 at 9:14 am
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    Kelly,
    These statistics are very eye-opening. Living in an area where medical research is one of the top employers, makes this information even more startling. According to UAB, they know more about RA and how to treat it than Lupus and other autoimmune diseses. That’s why there have been so many new drugs introduced to treat RA over the past few years. Imagine how much further we could we be in finding that medication(s) that puts this disease in remission for everyone!

    Reply
    • August 28, 2010 at 10:35 am
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      Amy, you’ve known from the beginning you are in a special place at UAB. I remember you telling me that. If I can’t get answers to some RA prob I have in the future, I’m coming there! I have read from researchers that we are further from finding a cure for RA than many of the other things like cancers & aids. Don’t know about Lupus, but I do get the impression that the auto-immune diseases are extremely complex. All the reason to spend more, not less. What if UAB had new grants / scholarships to train a new generation of rheum docs? Just as one example.

      Reply

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