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For Immediate Release:
May 18, 2006
For more information contact:
DHS Communications
(213) 240-8144 Pager: (213) 990-7107

County Residents Report Higher Rate of Activity Limitation Due to Arthritis Than Seen Nationally
Healthy weight, physical activity key to arthritis prevention

LOS ANGELES--A new report based on data from the 2005 Los Angeles County Health Survey reveals that though the prevalence of arthritis in Los Angeles County (20%) is comparable with the national rate (21%), more county adults with arthritis reported limitations in their usual activities because of their disease (50% county vs. 38% nationally).

The report also showed that the rates of arthritis diagnosis and activity limitations due to arthritis varied by age, gender and racial/ethnic groups:

--Among adults 65 years or older, over half have been diagnosed with arthritis as compared to 37% of adults aged 60-64 and 27% of adults aged 50-59.

--Women reported higher rates of arthritis than men (23.2% vs.15.2%);

--African-Americans had the highest rate of arthritis (28.7%) and the highest rate of limitations in their usual activity due to arthritis (64%) among the racial/ethnic groups;

--Asian/Pacific Islanders had the lowest rate of arthritis (12.3%) and the lowest rate of limitations in their usual activity due to arthritis (43%).

Obesity, joint injuries or infections, and repetitive motions that put stress on the joints can increase a person's risk of developing arthritis.

"Many people do not realize that arthritis is not a normal part of aging and can be prevented," said Jonathan Fielding, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Public Health and County Health Officer for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. "Engaging in physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding joint injuries, and prevention or early treatment of infectious diseases are examples of things people can do to prevent developing arthritis."

Burden of Arthritis

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States and contributes to $86 billion in national medical costs each year. As the average age of our population continues to increase, the percentage of adults with arthritis and the associated costs are expected to rise even more.

"Arthritis poses a huge societal burden not only because of its high prevalence and large economic impact, but also because of the pain and functional limitations it causes for people," said Margaret Shih, M.D., Ph.D., Interim Chief of the Health Assessment Unit.

According to the report, adults (18 years and older) with arthritis were significantly more likely to report worse quality of life than people without arthritis. They reported more physical and/or mentally unhealthy days and were more likely to perceive their health as being poorer.

However, older adults who have arthritis can benefit from physical activity. Both strength training and aerobic exercise can significantly decrease pain, delay disability and improve physical functioning.

For a copy of this report, please visit: http://lapublichealth.org/ha/

About the Los Angeles County Health Survey

The Los Angeles County Health Survey is a periodic, population-based telephone survey that collects information on socio-demographic characteristics, health behaviors, and access to health services among adults and children in the county. The most recent survey was conducted in 2005 for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services by Field Research Corporation.

About Public Health

Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 3,800 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $600 million.