Delhi residents can feel the effects of toxic air in their bones. Air pollution was found to be associated with increased autoimmune disease risks like rheumatoid arthritis, reveal doctors at AIIMS.
The theme for this year's World Arthritis Day is "It's in your hands, take action." Doctors at AIIMS are creating awareness on rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) and are also encouraging people who are suffering from RMD to take action and make a difference to the quality of life.
Nearly 24,000 cases of the disorder have been witnessed by the institute in six months. With winter approaching, doctors at AIIMS have already witnessed a 20 percent surge in OPD cases.
In this study, patients at AIIMS who were suffering from RMD were studied in correlation with air quality. The data was provided by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
The results reveal that when the particulate matter in the air was high, the prevalence of the disease was found to be high in patients.
Dr. Uma Kumar, professor & head of the rheumatology department at AIIMS stated, "We collected the data of air quality from IMD in New Delhi for the past few years and co-related with the patients who got the treatment here. It found that when the particulate matter in the air was high, then more disease activity was found in the patients."
Dr. Kumar further stated that post-Diwali celebrations, symptoms of this disease could worsen in patients. He concluded saying that air pollution is responsible for also autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, apart from causing respiratory diseases.
International agencies like WHO have rated Delhi's air quality as one of the worst air polluted city in the world.
There are millions of vehicles, construction sites, factories, burning crop stubble from the neighboring states, which are responsible in belching out clouds of tiny PM2.5 particles that cause harmful effects to health.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can lead to premature atherosclerosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease and stroke. This could reduce the lifespan of a patient suffering from RA by ten years. RA can cause disability and can become a burden in the family.
A study conducted on about 300 patients suffering from RA and diabetes revealed that every three out of five patients had moderate to severe disease activity.
"Patients were from 18-60 age group who were living with caregivers. The disease burden was found more in RA patients, which is statistically significant," informed Dr. Kumar.