Last week The British Science Festival in Birmingham heard how Rheumatoid Arthritis can be slowed down or even halted if it is caught early enough. Rheumatoid Arthritis is an immune disorder that affects 350,000 people in Britain and is three times more likely to affect women than men.
Karim Raza, from Birmingham University, said rheumalogists, with the support of the National Health Research, are gathering evidence about the advantages of diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis early, in preparation for launching a public campaign.
Often sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis don’t realise that the condition can be treated beyond pain relief and management or think that it is too minor to go to their doctor about. According to scientists at The British Science Festival, Rheumatoid Arthritis should be treated as urgently as cancer; if the onset of RA is treated early enough the disease can often be controlled or even halted.
If caught within the first three months, the auto-immune process responsible for rheumatoid arthritis can be targeted with drugs before it causes severe and permanent damage to the joints and other parts of the body. The disease doesn’t just affect joints and according to Dr Raza, “People with rheumatoid arthritis typically die 10 years younger from premature heart disease,”.
The early symptoms of RA are a swelling across the knuckles and sometimes the toe joints. These joints become painful and stiff, particularly first thing in the morning. The aim of the public campaign is to raise awareness of the condition so they can be diagnosed and treated earlier, “We need to raise awareness of the seriousness of the condition among the general public so they get quick access to the care they need, and which can make such a difference to the outcome of their disease,” Dr Karim Raza said.