Autoimmune disease

Autoimmune Disease 

The following facts and statistics on Autoimmune Disease from AARDA* show how very important it is that we spread the word about MG and other auto immune diseases.

Autoimmune Disease … is a major health problem

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates up to 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease and that the prevalence is rising.
  • AARDA say that 50 million* Americans suffer from autoimmune disease. Why the difference? The NIH numbers only include 24 diseases for which good epidemiology studies were available.
  • Researchers have identified 80-100 different autoimmune diseases and suspect at least 40 additional diseases of having an autoimmune basis. These diseases are chronic and can be life-threatening.
  • Autoimmune disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in female children and women in all age groups up to 64 years of age.
  • A close genetic relationship exists among autoimmune disease, explaining clustering in individuals and families as well as a common pathway of disease.
  • Commonly used immunosuppressant treatments lead to devastating long-term side effects.
  • The Institute of Medicine reports that the US is behind other countries in research into immune system self recognition, the process involved in autoimmune disease.
  • Understanding how to modulate immune system activity will benefit transplant recipients, cancer patients, AIDS patients and infectious disease patients. 

Autoimmune Disease  faces critical obstacles in diagnosis and treatment:

  • Symptoms cross many specialties and can affect all body organs.
  • Medical education provides minimal learning about autoimmune disease.
  • Specialists are generally unaware of interrelationships among the different autoimmune diseases or advances in treatment outside their own specialty area.
  • Initial symptoms are often intermittent and unspecific until the disease becomes acute.
  • Research is generally disease-specific and limited in scope. More information-sharing and crossover among research projects on different autoimmune diseases is needed.

Autoimmune Disease … surprising statistical comparisons with other disease groups

  • NIH estimates up to 23.5 million Americans have an AD. In comparison, cancer affects up to 9 million and heart disease up to 22 million.
  • NIH estimates annual direct health care costs for AD to be in the range of $100 billion (source: NIH presentation by Dr. Fauci, NIAID). In comparison, cancers costs are $57 billion (source: NIH,ACS), and heart and stroke costs are $200 billion (source: NIH, AHA).
  • NIH research funding for AD in 2003 came to $591 MILLION. In comparison,cancer funding came to $6.1 BILLION; and heart and stroke, to $2.4 BILLION(source: NIH).
  • The NIH Autoimmune Diseases Research Plan states; “Research discoveries of the last decade have made autoimmune research one of the most promising areas of new discovery.”
  • According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Women’s Health, autoimmune disease and disorders ranked #1 in a top ten list of most popular health topics requested by callers to the National Women’s Health Information Center.