Outlook Has Improved for Arthritis Patients
Hospitalizations for severecomplications due to rheumatoidarthritis (RA) declined between1983 and 2001. From 1983 to1987, there were 148.7 hospitalizationsfor rheumatoid vascularinflammation per 100,000 RApatients. This figure fell to 97.8for the period 1998-2001. Therewas a surge in total kneereplacement between 1983 and1997, but this trend reversedbetween 1997 and 2001,according to a report in Arthritis& Rheumatism (April 2004).
Researcher Michael M.Ward, MD, identified individualswith RA age 40 and older, usingdata files from the CaliforniaOffice of Statewide Health Planningand Development. He utilizedthese data to spot markersof severe disease and failure oftreatment to properly control thecondition. The results suggestedthat "the decreased rates ofhospitalization for manifestationsof severe RA were not dueto changes in the use of hospitalcare from 1983 to 2001, butrather were specific to manifestationsof RA," Dr. Ward said.