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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 July 2006, 05:16 GMT 06:16 UK
Coping with rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Women are three times more likely than men to be affected by RA
For half a million women in the UK, rheumatoid arthritis is a painful condition that can be severely disabling.

It's caused by a disease of the autoimmune system which leads to inflammation and destruction of the joints.

A campaign is being launched today to raise awareness into the condition and to look at what can be done to help sufferers.

This morning on Breakfast:

  • We spoke to Carrie Wright who suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis and our resident GP Dr Rosemary Leonard

    Carrie was diagnosed with the condition when she was three years old - watch again from the link to the right

  • And we also found out more from another RA sufferer - 61 year old Rosemary Cleaver who told us her story

    Women are three times more likely to suffer from the condition as men - ten women MPs are backing the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society and Arthritis Care to urge the Government to adopt a five-point plan for better funding and access to the latest treatment.

    The campaign is being sponsored by Tory MP Theresa May and includes an 80-page photo book where the MPs have interviewed 10 women with RA.

  • What is rheumatoid arthritis?

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a complex, chronic inflammatory disease, which has no known cure.

  • The cause of the condition is not known, but many factors, including genetic predisposition, may affect the autoimmune process

  • RA is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 70

  • Women are three times more likely to have RA than men

  • The long-term prognosis for patients with the condition is poor; many patients face increased disability, and premature death

  • 42% of RA patients are registered disabled within three years of diagnosis

  • Almost 80% of RA patients are moderately to severely disabled within 20 years of diagnosis

  • 9.4 million working days were lost because of RA between 1999-2000 in Great Britain, representing 833 million in lost production

  • While people with RA may wish to work, the employment environment is not always supportive

  • Key recommendations to improve life for women with RA

  • Every PCT to have a full rheumatology team to assess patient needs early diagnosis and treatment can help

  • PCTs to properly fund NICE's recommendation about when patients should have access to the new generation of anti-TNF drugs for rheumatoid arthritis.

  • The Women and Equality Unit - tasked with getting more women into work, should consider the needs of women with RA

  • The DoH and Dept of Work and Pensions should consider the needs of RA patients in order to return to work

  • The Government should make sure that the White Paper on Incapacity Benefit does not penalise RA patients

    Rheumatoid arthritis
    Watch our film and advice

    BBC Breakfast



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