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Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

RA affects between 0.5% and 1% of the population

  • estimated prevalence in
    • North America and Northern Europe - between 0.5% and 1.1%
    • developing countries - a lower prevalence (0.1-0.5%)

It is more common in women with a sex ratio between 2:1 and 4:1 (1)

Onset of the disease is usually around 30s with a peak in the fifth decade of life

  • disease onset at 65 years or over is referred to as Late-Onset RA (LORA) while RA starting at earlier ages is called Young-Onset RA (YORA)
  • prevalence increases with age
  • gender differences diminish in the older age group (1)

In the UK

  • approximately 400,000 people in England and Wales have this condition
  • incidence is around 1.5 men and 3.6 women developing RA per 10,000 people per year.
    • translates into approximately 12,000 people developing RA per year in the UK
  • overall occurrence of RA is two to four times greater in women than men. The peak age of incidence in the UK for both genders is the 70s, but people of all ages can develop the disease (3)
  • life expectancy of people with RA is reduced by 5 -10 years compared with that of people without the condition, and 35 - 50% of this excess risk is accounted for by cardiovascular (CV) mortality
  • approximately one third of people stop work because of the disease within 2 years of onset, and this prevalence increases thereafter. The total costs of RA in the UK, including indirect costs and work-related disability, have been estimated at between £3.8 and £4.75 billion per year (2)


  1. Amaya-Amaya J, Rojas-Villarraga A, Mantilla RD, et al. Rheumatoid arthritis. In: Anaya JM, Shoenfeld Y, Rojas-Villarraga A, et al., editors. Autoimmunity: From Bench to Bedside [Internet]. Bogota (Colombia): El Rosario University Press; 2013 Jul 18. Chapter 24..
  2. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) 2018. Rheumatoid arthritis in adults: management

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