Awareness can be an ambiguous term, but it makes all the difference in rheumatology. The first weeks and months following the onset of rheumatic disease symptoms are known as the window of opportunity. Prompt treatment can prevent damage to joints and other organs, improve long-term function and increase the likelihood of achieving disease remission. But the window is not open forever. Once it slams shut, a body of scientific evidence shows that health complications surface and persist for years to come.
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Explore This IssueJuly 2017
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Education, therefore, has the potential to transform the lives of millions of Americans. For this reason, the American College of Rheumatology created Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month (RDAM), an annual, national health observance month designed to increase public awareness of rheumatic diseases, their symptoms and the important role of rheumatologists in providing specialized care. Launched in September 2016, RDAM will continue this year, with several exciting initiatives planned.
“More than 54 million Americans live with painful, debilitating and life-threatening rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, gout and lupus,” says Sharad Lakhanpal, MBBS, MD, ACR president. “With arthritis prevalence on the rise, the cost and impact of rheumatic diseases are set to soar, so it’s vital that we get out ahead of the problem. As the leading voice for the nation’s rheumatologists and rheumatology healthcare professionals, the ACR has the platform to enact change—and we believe that such change starts with a better informed public.”
The ACR and its public awareness campaign, Simple Tasks, hope to build on the success of the first Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month hosted in 2016. The first annual RDAM featured a national public service announcement featuring actress Jennie Garth, convened more than 100 patients and providers in Washington, D.C., for an Advocates for Arthritis Capitol Hill Day and brought together dozens of valued partners—including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Mayo Clinic, Arthritis Foundation, Lupus Foundation of America, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, U.S. Rep. David McKinley and Creaky Joints—to raise awareness throughout the month of September.
Tackling Rheumatic Disease with Terry Bradshaw
This year, the ACR is tackling rheumatic disease with the help of sports commentator, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and four-time Super Bowl champion Terry Bradshaw.