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First-Ever Rheumatoid Arthritis Day, Feb. 2, Bringing Thousands Together

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 31, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The first-ever Rheumatoid Awareness Day, to be celebrated on Saturday, has already brought thousands of patients together to begin the process of educating the public about rheumatoid arthritis. To date, nearly 6,000 have signed up to recognize the day on the Facebook page for this event, with others preparing to host local events and writing officials requesting recognition of Rheumatoid Awareness Day.

In addition, Crescendo Bioscience®, Inc. is providing a matching grant for donations up to $10,000 to the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation (RPF), the group that established Rheumatoid Awareness Day. RPF encourages both patients and the public to join this first awareness day by donating through the link http://bit.ly/give2RPF. Crescendo Bioscience is a molecular diagnostics company that offers Vectra™ DA, a multi-biomarker blood test that measures disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

The stories posted on social media have underscored the impact of the disease; some people have posted about the career they enjoyed before the disease or about having had the disease since childhood. James posted, "It's such a struggle on a daily basis for those of us with this disease, and to have those around us say 'I know how you feel, I've got a little arthritis pain in my finger or toe or wherever.' This is so much more than just arthritis."

One goal of this initiative is to overcome the misconception that rheumatoid disease is a form of arthritis. While the disease usually affects joints, the disease process is not the same as osteoarthritis. RPF founder Kelly Young points out, "joint inflammation is a prominent symptom of this disease for most patients, but it's a disservice to refer to it as merely a type of arthritis." She explains, "Just today a patient posted about the severe effects of her rheumatoid lung disease, saying her joints feel better than they have in years."

Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive inflammatory disease causing damage to joint and organ tissues, resulting in pain, frequent disability, and increased mortality. RPF gives a voice to millions of people with this disease which, despite the lack of awareness, is rather common. According to the Mayo Clinic, lifetime risk of the disease is 3.6 percent for women and 1.7 percent for men.1

The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation established Rheumatoid Awareness Day as the second of February, drawing analogies between Groundhog Day and the crucial window of opportunity after disease onset for rheumatoid patients to get early diagnosis and treatment. The day also falls during Heart Disease Awareness Month, highlighting the link between rheumatoid disease and heart disease. Rheumatoid patients have a higher incidence of stroke, atrial fibrillation, and silent heart attack. For more information on how to support Rheumatoid Awareness Day, visit http://rheum4us.org/rheumatoid-arthritis-awareness-day/.

About the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation

RPF is a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with rheumatoid diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile arthritis. RPF was founded in 2011 to address a significant lack of disease education, comparatively low levels of research funding, and difficulty obtaining adequate treatment. RPF is committed to creating pathways to better clinical care and disease outcomes through education, awareness, and participation in patient-centered research. For more information, visit http://rheum4us.org or follow RPF on Facebook or Twitter.

1Mayo Clinic. 2011. Mayo Clinic Determines Lifetime Risk of Adult Rheumatoid Arthritis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2011-rst/6137.html?rss-feedid=1

CONTACT: Terri Clevenger Continuum Health Communications (203) 856-4326Source:Continuum Health