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Lack of vigorous activity linked to functional decline in older adults with arthritis

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Nearly 60 percent of Americans ages 65 and older suffer with some form of this progressive joint disease. For more than 1 in 10 sufferers, arthritis makes simple, everyday tasks, from walking up a flight of stairs to bathing and dressing, extremely difficult. By 2010, arthritis is projected to affect almost 40 million Americans over age 65, potentially increasing the ranks of senior citizens with disabilities that can limit independent living.

To avert an epidemic of disability in the future and ease the burden on Medicare, researchers are seeking to understand better and manage all the components demographic, biological, socioeconomic, and behavioral that contribute to functional decline in arthritis patients. Toward this goal, a team of researchers at Northwestern University conducted a long-term study of various risk factors, based on a large national sample of older adults with arthritis. Their findings, featured in the April 2005 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis), offer good news for guiding effective prevention efforts. Among the subjects 5,715 women and men ages 65 and up the strongest predictor of the loss of ability to perform basic activities of daily living after developing arthritis was the lack of regular vigorous physical activity.

All patients in this study were diagnosed with having arthritis or rheumatism and were drawn from a large national study of health among people of traditional retirement age. 64 percent of the patients were female. The majority was also white, with 8.6 percent African Americans and 4.5 percent Hispanics. At baseline, nearly 20 percent of the subjects reported some functional limitation. The research team evaluated all participants for a wide range of risk factors, including age, education, income level, and the to
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Contact: Amy Molnar
amolnar@wiley.com
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
7-Apr-2005


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