Dubai, UAE - Jul 29, 2013 (PRN): “It's very important to increase awareness of Rheumatoid Arthritis so women can get the right treatment early. Patients often ignore their symptoms, think there is no treatment or see an Orthopedic surgeon who may treat them differently. Due to this lack of awareness in the UAE a correct diagnosis may take up to 14 months, by which time active disease levels can be very high and permanent joint damage may have set in,” said Dr. Humeira Badsha, Consultant Rheumatologist. Dr. Badsha is planning a study to see how women are affected by RA as compared with men.
According to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, 80% to 85% of patients suffer from joint damage, mostly in the first two years. RA patients are also twice as likely to die compared with unaffected people the same age.
Symptoms typically develop over weeks to months and can include stiffness in one or more joints, usually accompanied by pain upon movement and joint tenderness. The joints most frequently involved are in the hands, wrists and small joints of the feet. Other symptoms that may precede RA onset include fatigue, malaise and depression. These symptoms may be exacerbated by the UAE's hot and humid climate, which can make joints swell even more.
Women are also encouraged to test for RA because the risk of developing other conditions is higher than average for people with RA. “Patients with RA are more prone to Cardiovascular Diseases due to the inflammatory response in the body,” said Dr. Badsha. Approximately one third to half of all RA-related mortalities result from CVD, according to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center.
Cardiovascular diseases are wide-ranging and encompass disorders of the heart, arteries, veins and lymphatic vessels. These can include conditions such as angina, heart attack and stroke.
Patients may be at further risk due to the hot climate and air conditioned environments in the UAE which can encourage an inactive indoor lifestyle. Obesity is a risk factor for both RA and CVD, as every extra kilo above normal weight will increase joint stress by five times,” said Dr. Badsha.
Should the patient be found to be living with multiple conditions, it is critical that the Rheumatologist and other doctors involved know so they can help patients manage their lifestyle and coordinate treatments,” said Dr. Badsha.