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New Estimates Show Rise in Prevalence of Arthritis

More than 46 million American adults report arthritis; osteoarthritis affects almost 27 million

TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- An estimate of the prevalence of rheumatic conditions finds that more than one-fifth of American adults report that they have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. The new figures on rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and other conditions are published in two papers in the January issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Charles G. Helmick, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues created estimates using data from the National Health Interview Survey, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and national and local population-based studies.

The investigators found that 46.4 million American adults have self-reported, doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis affects 1.3 million American adults, a number that has showed a decline in recent decades. However, given the aging American population, the authors anticipate a rising burden from rheumatoid arthritis among older adults. Osteoarthritis affects nearly 27 million adults, up from 21 million in 1995. Five million have fibromyalgia, and up to 3 million reported gout in the past year.

"The prevalence of overall arthritis in the United States has continued to grow since our last estimate, which is not surprising given that many of these conditions are age related and the overall population is aging. This increase suggests that overall arthritis will have a growing impact on the health care and public health systems in the future, one that needs to be anticipated in order to provide the early diagnosis and interventions that could help reduce that impact," Helmick and colleagues write.

Abstract - Helmick
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Abstract - Lawrence
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