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Rheumatoid Arthritis Impacts Millions of Americans but Remains Severely Underfunded
American College of Rheumatology Research and Education Foundation
Launches 'Within Our Reach' Campaign to Raise Funds to Search for a
Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects 2.1 million Americans and despite
many advances in the understanding of the disease, funds for research
remain limited and both the cause and a cure are still unknown. The
American College of Rheumatology Research and Education Foundation (ACR
REF) is working to accelerate RA research and expand financial support
of this disease by launching the Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for
Rheumatoid Arthritis campaign. The new program is designed to raise
unprecedented funds to search for a cure.
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.
Despite the lack of funding, research has led to more effective and
aggressive, treatments as well as a better understanding of how to
manage the disease.
"Therapy for patients with RA has improved dramatically, and we also
have learned that early diagnosis is essential," said Dr. James R.
O'Dell, president of the REF. "While there is no cure, patients who
receive treatment early feel better and are more likely to lead an
active life. Painful symptoms including inflammation and joint damage
can be minimized with early treatment and further research will
continue to better patients' lives and get us closer to a cure."
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms and Diagnosis RA is a chronic,
autoimmune disease that develops because certain cells of the immune
system malfunction and attack healthy joints. It is far more common in
women than many expect. Approximately 1 to 3 percent of women may
develop RA in their lifetime, which is three times more common in women
as in men. While symptoms most often begin between the fourth and sixth
decades of life, RA can develop at any age.
Pain, stiffness, swelling, and limitation in the motion and
function of multiple joints are the most common symptoms. Though joints
are the principal body parts affected by RA, inflammation can develop
in other organs as well. Additional warning signs also include:
-- Loss of energy
-- Low-grade fevers
-- Loss of appetite
-- Dry eyes and mouth from an associated condition known as Sjogren's
-- Firm lumps called rheumatoid nodules beneath the skin in areas such as
the elbow and hands
RA can be difficult to diagnose because it may begin gradually and many
diseases behave in a manner similar to RA. Patients suspected of having
RA should be evaluated by a rheumatologist, a physician with the
necessary skill and experience to reach a precise diagnosis and develop
the most appropriate treatment plan.
Patients can visit http://www.rheumatology.org/directory to find a rheumatologist in their area.
About Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis Campaign
Within Our Reach is a national, multi-year fundraising
campaign with a goal to raise $30 million towards accelerating
innovative research focused specifically on rheumatoid arthritis. It is
the largest private fundraising campaign in the REF's history, which
will tap a diverse donor base, supporting innovative research to learn
more about the causes of RA and, ultimately, to find a cure. Since
November, the campaign has received tremendous support from the
pharmaceutical industry, biotech companies, physicians and patients.
"Today, more funding needs to be directed towards the
kind of RA research that goes beyond treatment only - the kind of RA
research that seeks to find a cure through better understanding of the
causes of and preventions for this devastating disease," added Dr.
O'Dell. "With the guidance of ACR Research and Education Foundation,
Within Our Reach will allow more of this type of research to be
conducted and together we can work to find a cure."
To learn more about rheumatoid arthritis and Within Our Reach, please visit
About the ACR Research and Education Foundation
The ACR Research and Education Foundation was
established in 1985 as a 501(c)(3) with a mission to improve patients'
lives through support of research and training that advances the
prevention, treatment and cure of rheumatic diseases. Since its
founding, the REF has promoted and advanced the field of rheumatology
by funding research, training and education opportunities for
clinicians, students, health professionals, researchers and academic
institutions. On average, 90 cents of every dollar donated to the REF
is used to fund its extensive award and grant program.
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