Unstoppable Growth: They estimate that in 2050, 1,000 million people will suffer from a disease that can lead to disability.

MADRID.- osteoarthritis This is the most common form of arthritis and one of the main causes chronic pain and disability in adults. The cartilage of the affected joint breaks down, causing pain, stiffness and swelling at the level of the joint, creaking when the joint moves, and decreased function. It affects 15% of the population over 30 and has not stopped growing in recent decades. The American Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) analyzed the prevalence over the past thirty years in more than 200 countries and made the first forecast of the evolution of the disease until 2050. The results are published this Monday in the journal. Lancet Rheumatology. In 1990, it affected 256 million people in the world; in 2020 there were already 595 million; and to Nearly one billion are expected to be affected by 2050.

This pathology can damage any joint, but researchers have focused on hips, knees and handswho usually suffer the most. It can be diagnosed before the age of 50, but older people are most affected by it. Osteoarthritis was the seventh leading cause of disability among people over 70 in 2020. The authors warn in the paper that preventing this or mitigating its effects “could prevent decades of declining quality of life.” Among other details, the cost that the disease can entail stands out: in 2016, it represented an investment in the United States of almost $80,000 million (73,000 million euros) in health care, and in 2003, more than $400 million direct and indirect expenses. one in Hong Kong.

Scientists identify obesity as the main risk factorwhich in 2020 was the cause of 20% of cases, which is 4% more than in 1990. Other causes considered: physically demanding work, high-impact elite sports practice, meniscus surgery (removal of all or part of a torn meniscus), the anatomy of the joints and muscle weakness. Metabolic contributions must also be taken into account, such as adipokine concentration (a type of protein) and insulin resistance, which can predict osteoarthritis of the knee without having to look at body mass index, the text adds.

Currently, there are the following treatment options for osteoarthritis. exercise, physical therapy, use of canes or splints, home improvement, pain medication, and surgery (including joint replacement). However, they are patches because this disease has no cure. That is why it is necessary to review care and treatment methods in order to delay the progression of the disease as much as possible, the authors note in the article.

Osteoarthritis affects women more than men, accounting for 61% of diagnosed cases in 2020. There are also geographical differences: it is more common in high-income countries in the Asia-Pacific region, North America and Eastern Europe. In contrast, the lowest prevalence was seen in Southeast Asia and eastern and central sub-Saharan Africa. However, scientists note that there may not be a large discrepancy due to the large difference in the data that they managed to obtain from one and the other territory.

The parts of the body where this disease is most likely to occur and where it will spread the most are: knees and hands. According to the investigation, it is expected that in 2050 642 million people will suffer from it in the first case and 279 million in the second. In addition, since 1990, the rate of disability due to both factors has increased by 69% and 57%, respectively.

In most areas, the factors most contributing to the increase in the prevalence of osteoarthritis, in addition to obesity, are aging and population growth. In fact, areas where osteoarthritis is least expected to increase between 2020 and 2050 were projected to experience population declines, such as in Central and Eastern Europe. However, the greatest prevalence of the disease is expected to be in central, eastern and western sub-Saharan Africa, with an increase of up to 200% in the countries that make them up.

The authors describe in detail thatThe biggest limitation for conducting the study was the lack of data and obtaining good quality data. They conclude that prevention is needed to address the long-term burden of osteoarthritis, facilitating access to the most effective treatments (such as joint replacement), as well as research into the risk factors that cause and exacerbate the severity of this condition. scientists.

Ines Sanchez-Manzhavakas Castaño


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