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The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors study (GBD) from 2017 analyzed the burden of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for 195 countries between 1990 to 2017 and surmised that RA is a major global public health challenge, with increasing prevalence and incidence rates.
This systematic analysis looked at mortality and morbidity data to estimate prevalence, incidence and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) from 195 countries, specifically looking at age, sex, socio-demographic Index (SDI; a composite of sociodemographic factors) and Healthcare Access and Quality (an indicator of health system performance) Index.
Globally, the age-standardised point prevalence rate for RA was 246.6 (95% UI 222.4 to 270.8).
The annual incidence rates of RA was 14.9 (95% UI 13.3 to 16.4) in 2017, which increased by 8.2% (95% UI 5.9 to 10.5) from 1990. Yet the RA DALYs per 100 000 population was 43.3 (95% UI 33.0 to 54.5) in 2017, which was a 3.6% lower than the 1990 rate.
The RA prevalence and DALY rates increased with age and tended to be higher in females; with rates peaking in the 70–74 and 75–79 age groups for females and males, respectively.
The UK had the highest age-standardised prevalence rate (471.8 (95% UI 428.9 to 514.9)) and age-standardised incidence rate (27.5 (95% UI 24.7 to 30.0)) in 2017.
The growth of RA was highest in Canada, Paraguay and Guatemala with age-standardised prevalence rates (54.7% (95% UI 49.2 to 59.7), 41.8% (95% UI 35.0 to 48.6) and 37.0% (95% UI 30.9 to 43.9), respectively).
RA remains a significant and growing public health problem requiring programs for earlier detection and publich health strategies to reduce the risk of RA and better monitoring of disease burden.