Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune joint disease caused by the body’s immune system mistakenly attacking the body’s own joints. RA is characterized by inflammation at the lining of the joints, causing painful swelling which can eventually result in bone erosions and joint deformity, if left untreated. The disease can also cause damage to a wide variety of other body systems, including lungs, skin, eyes, heart, blood vessels and others.
How many have Rheumatoid Arthritis?
RA is the most common autoimmune inflammatory joint disease, affecting approximately 0.5% of the population. Women are about two to three times more likely to get RA than men, but risk factors also include risk factors include age, genetics, smoking status, obesity and environmental factors.
How is Rheumatoid Arthritis treated?
There is no cure for RA, but symptoms and inflammation can be treated using NSAIDs, steroids, or synthetic or biologic DMARDs. The type of treatment will depend on the severity of symptoms and the number of years with RA.
How is Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosed?
Current diagnoses include physical examination looking for signs of joint inflammation. Current biomarkers used in standard of care diagnosis include c-reactive protein (CRP) or erythrocyte sedimentation rate, which can indicate the presence of an inflammatory reaction. Other blood tests include rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide which is present in some patients.