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  • Writer's pictureDr. Chris Phillips

Today We Celebrate Rheumatoid Awareness Day!

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

Today is Rheumatoid Awareness Day!

Observed every year on February 2, Rheumatoid Awareness Day is part of an awareness campaign by the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation (RPF) - an organization “dedicated to improving the lives of people with Rheumatoid disease.”

Why create a day called Rheumatoid Awareness Day?

One specific word is purposefully excluded from the title of this day. When you hear the term RHEUMATOID, it is often followed by the word ARTHRITIS, right? Rheumatoid arthritis is a common medical description of a condition that falls under rheumatic diseases or autoimmune diseases.

The RPF feels this is problematic. The primary purpose of Rheumatoid Awareness Day is to give “people with the chronic illness known as rheumatoid arthritis, or rheumatoid disease, a day of recognition. Because the disease is commonly presumed to be a type of arthritis, awareness is lacking, causing problems with disability accommodations, clinical care, healthcare costs and research funding.”

What is the difference between a rheumatoid disease and osteoarthritis?

The RFP initiated this awareness campaign to help “overcome the misconception that rheumatoid disease is a form of arthritis.” While it is true that rheumatic diseases are known to affect joints, the disease progression of rheumatic diseases is not the same process that leads to osteoarthritis.

The Mayo Clinic explains: “Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, involves the wearing away of the cartilage that caps the bones in your joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, beginning with the lining of joints.”

Why is Rheumatoid Awareness Day in February?

Rheumatoid Awareness Day kicks off the start of Heart Disease Awareness Month as a way to also bring attention to how rheumatic diseases impact the heart.

A recent study concluded: “Patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular manifestations. The high risk of cardiovascular pathology in these patients is not only due to traditional cardiovascular risk factors (age, gender, family history, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, cholesterol), but also to chronic inflammation and autoimmunity.”

In addition, the RPF reports: “Studies show that rheumatoid disease may affect the heart prior to diagnosis. Rheumatoid patients have higher incidence of stroke and atrial fibrillation in addition to the specific effects of the disease upon the heart itself. A study conducted by Mayo Clinic reported that rheumatoid patients were twice as likely to experience silent heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths.”

How can you support Rheumatoid Awareness Day?

Rheumatoid Awareness Day is all about sharing information! You support this cause when you:

  • Post on social media and use the hashtags #RheumDay and #TheRealRD

  • Wear indigo and gold clothing on February 2

  • Follow the RPF Facebook page

  • Donate to an organization that spreads awareness about rheumatic diseases

  • Share your story with friends and family

  • Print out and distribute posters or pamphlets about Rheumatoid Awareness Day

You further support Rheumatoid Awareness Day when you take care of your own health. Our team here at Paducah Rheumatology wants to help you become your best self. We work side-by-side with our patients to improve their quality of life through careful and proper management of their rheumatic disease.

Give us a call at 270-408-6100 today. We look forward to talking with you!

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