Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the United States. While there are many factors that can contribute to the development of the disease, hereditary factors play a big role in risk.
The American College of Rheumatology reports
that certain autoimmune diseases tend to pop up again and again in families. However, twin studies have shown that environmental factors play a part in how the disease presents itself in a patient. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is autoimmune related, has been linked to a gene that is very prevalent in Americans of European ancestry. For Osteoarthritis, which is degenerative, some sibling studies have also shown a correlation for risk. Doctors are using this information to help form new treatment strategies.
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If you have a high risk for other chronic diseases, your risk for arthritis is also higher. According to the Arthritis Foundation
, more than 50 percent of adults with diabetes and heart disease also have arthritis. A third of older adults with anxiety or depression and 36 percent of those who are obese will suffer from arthritis. High blood pressure and arthritis are also connected.
Certain population groups are more likely to have the disease. Whites have higher rates of arthritis than minority groups in the United States, including Asians, Blacks and Hispanics. Unfortunately, minorities who are affected report higher levels of pain and lifestyle limitations. Women are far more likely than men to be diagnosed with the disease.
Despite the genetic factors, doctors think there are some environmental factors that affect whether a patient will develop symptoms, particularly of rheumatoid arthritis. Those factors include smoking and diet. The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society in the United Kingdom explains
that the understanding of genetic causes for rheumatoid arthritis can help with treatment plans. The identification of the genes that contribute to the disease can lead to a better understanding of how severe the rheumatoid arthritis is likely to be, who will be prone to develop the disease and finding the treatment to which the patient will be most likely to respond.
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