Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with RA

It's doesn't care how young or old you are

It's Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week (RAAW) 2019.

Between 17-23 June, let's challenge the misconceptions of arthritis being a condition of the elderly or associated with ageing.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an auto-immune condition which, in addition to your internal joints, can affect internal organs such as the heart, lungs and eyes. The auto-immune nature of the condition is what distinguishes RA from the more widely known form of arthritis, psteoarthritis (OA) - caused by wear and tear joints as you get older.

Surprising RA facts

  • The most common age of onset of RA is between 40-60 years old, but early onset of RA can be as young as 14
  • c.400,000 people in the UK are living with RA: that’s one in 100
  • Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with RA
  • It can affect people at any age
  • It not only affects joints, it can also affect other organs such as heart, lungs, kidneys and even the eyes
  • RA affects three times as many women as men under the age of 60
  • If you have RA, the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack is doubled
  • There is 30-40% increased risk of anxiety and depression
  • There is 30% higher risk of stroke
  • COPD rates are twice as high in people with RA
  • There is a 40% increased risk of developing dry eye syndrome in people with RA
  • The rates of osteoporosis are twice as high in people with RA.

While there is still no cure, if diagnosed and treated adequately, people can expect to lead full and active lives due to the advances in RA treatments.

What can help?

There are a number of treatments available for all forms of arthritis. However, the treatment will depend on the cause of arthritis. Whilst there is no cure, treatments can slow it down.  Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis are often divided into two types of medication: disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biological treatments. A short course of steroids may be used to help relieve pain and inflammation in the short term.  It is important to know how to manage flare ups of rheumatoid arthritis.  Use a diary to record your symptoms and keep rescue medication to hand i.e. your favoured medication. Let your rheumatologist know how many flares you are getting so you can be assessed properly. Find out more about treatments and how to control your symptoms.

Lifestyle changes that may help

  • Eat a well-balanced diet and to keep to a healthy weight
  • Reduce sugar and fat in your diet
  • Stop smoking - it makes you more susceptible to RA
  • Practice good sleep hygiene
  • Physical activity and exercise are good for people with all forms of arthritis as it can help to ease some of the symptoms and improve general health
  • Pace your activities, particularly if you feel sore or tired
  • Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can experience problems with their mouths
  • RA can also affect your feet
  • You may feel low if you have arthritis. Try to spend time with others, keep moving or talk with your GP.


Find out more about RAAW Week

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