Why I did an RA test kit—when I already know I have RA / RD
In the video below, you’ll see me use the imaware™ RA test kit live. This video is my sincere, unrehearsed attempt to show how to use the test kit. I thought it would be easier for people if they felt intimidated about pricking their own finger to collect drops of blood. imaware™ is the first RA test kit you can use to check RA antibodies at home, so I certainly had no idea what it was like until I did it.
First, I believe the new RA test kit is going to be a very important tool for family members of people with rheumatoid disease (PRD), and I needed to find out first hand just how the process worked. But, I wrote recently about why early RA screening matters so much. Earlier treatment has been recommended by experts in recent years. And now several studies are investigating how using DMARDs early can be used to delay or prevent the onset of full-blown disease. Very early treatment like this is still in its infancy, but eventually it will be the norm to prevent advanced RA—just like we do with many cancers.
Is the RA test kit worth it?
I think that really depends on each situation. Most people like me who already know their antibody levels are high have no need to be tested. But I can see that my five children, over the next few years, would find it very valuable to keep an eye on these levels, along with symptoms of course.
My kids are what investigators call FDR’s (first degree relatives). They have a five times greater risk of developing RD. People like them probably benefit the most from an RA test kit. But anyone who’s suspicious that they might be developing the disease can use the test, which checks for three different antibodies—two rheumatoid factors and one ACPA / anti-CCP antibody.
It seems like the cost might be the less than the cost of a doctor visit to get a lab prescription and then the cost of testing three antibodies—if you can get an order for that. I never have. At the most, I’ve had two antibodies ordered. There are actually several types of antibodies that are connected with RD, but we don’t have routine tests available for all of them.
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What’s included with the RA test kit?
You can see me in the video below reading my RA test report. I was actually seeing my report for the first time as it was being recorded! The report considers your symptoms and family history. It includes a detailed section with antibody levels and a medical explanation to print for your doctor.
I searched online for self tests to compare the cost of imaware™’s service. I found a very old link to buy a test and do the whole thing at home without a certified lab. No report or analysis of the level of antibodies. It had a higher price than imaware™ but tested only one antibody.
Would an RA test kit really matter?
For some it will matter a lot—for those whose doctors didn’t test rheumatoid antibodies and who were able to learn that they likely do have RD so they can see a doctor to seek treatment immediately. For others, their antibody levels may be too early to treat yet, unless they have clear symptoms so that a doctor can diagnose them under that category of “seronegative.”
For me, it would have made a huge difference if I had known earlier that rheumatoid antibodies were in my blood. I had a family history of RD and symptoms that flared and remitted for years. If I had been treated earlier, it’s more likely that I would have responded to a treatment that could stop my disease from being so damaging.
Have you tried the at-home RA test kit?
Please share your experience or questions below.
And please share the video with anyone you know who might need to know about the test.
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Special thanks to imaware™: As I’ve explained previously on the blog, I am working with them on this RA test because I believe strongly in their goal for early RD diagnosis and have advocated that for 10 yrs. This is the biggest way we can change the lives of people living with RD. imaware has gone above and beyond any effort I’ve seen before to help patients whether or not they need to purchase a test. I have been reimbursed for my time to help them understand this disease. They also work with Celiac patient groups to better learn how to help Celiac patients and not just be a company selling tests.