I think in general, I try to be positive and my blogs should hopefully reflect that. But this entry goes down a dark and ugly road… but it’s a road of truth, though it’s often unspoken. I’m not trying to be an alarmist, or a heart-string puller, or trying to freak anybody out… but this is the truth. Here it is. Arthritis can be deadly.
According to CDC data, adults with RA are two times more likely to die than other people their own age. For childhood arthritis, the average deaths per year from 1979-1998 were 50 per year. During that same time, Lupus deaths increased from 879 to 1,406 a year. Osteoarthritis contributes to approximately 500 deaths a year. Unfortunately the data is old – we need new studies on this and just about every other topic relating to arthritis (but that’s a whole different entry!) You can see all of this data at the CDC web site on arthritis:
Granted, these numbers are small when compared with the many things that could cause death. The odds of dying due to OA, for example, are roughly the same odds as being struck by lightning in a given year – 1 in 400,000. But we cannot live in fear of being struck by lightning….. The difference is that we cannot do anything about lightning. We cannot predict when it will strike, exactly – (though staying inside during storms isn’t a bad start…) We ARE trying to do everything we can to stop arthritis – to predict it, prevent it, control it and cure it.
I don’t want parents to worry about mortality rates – on top of the myriad of worries you already face in dealing with your child’s illness. But I just want to point out the elephant in the room, lest we work so hard around it, that we forget the truth. Arthritis, whether the disease itself, complications from the treatment, or interactions with other diseases – can be deadly. Even though the numbers are small, I started reflecting on the people I knew of, if even only by name, who fit this story – and the number I came up with stopped me in my tracks. So… for Christiana P., Jessica S., Tree, Makayla H., Chelsea A., a beautiful young girl from Nebraska and all those whose passing was hastened by arthritis – please remember the truth and never stop fighting to make it a part of history.