The Rheumatology Division at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) cares for more than 2,000 patients with arthritis and rheumatic diseases monthly.
“Rheumatic diseases are commonly classified as inflammatory and non-inflammatory, with rheumatoid arthritis, reactive arthritis, and connective tissue diseases such as lupus, being among the most common inflammatory rheumatic diseases.," said Dr Basem Awadh, senior consultant and associate programme director,
“Rheumatoid diseases can affect almost any part of the body. Most of these conditions happen when the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. We don’t know for certain why this happens. Sometimes, it is in an affected person's genes or is caused by other risk factors such as cigarette smoke, pollution, or an unhealthy and unbalanced diet” explained Dr Awadh.
“Gender also plays a role with more women than men being affected by rheumatic diseases. The most common signs and symptoms of rheumatic diseases include joint swelling, pain, prolonged early morning stiffness, and painful and decreased range of motion,” said Dr Awadh.
Dr Abdul-Wahab al-Allaf, senior consultant rheumatologist and chairman of HMC’s World Arthritis Day Organising Committee, says that rheumatic diseases affect the joint tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles. The severity of symptoms can vary from person to person, but that early diagnosis and treatment may help ease symptoms and improve a patient’s long-term outlook.
“These diseases are the biggest cause of sick leave and premature retirement worldwide. Improving the treatment and prevention of rheumatic diseases, as well as proper rehabilitation of our patients, are important avenues towards reducing the diseases’ burden on individuals, their families, and society at large,” added Dr al-Allaf.
According to Dr al-Allaf, rheumatic diseases affect males and females of all ages, including children and babies. However, he says some rheumatic diseases are more common among certain populations.
Dr Samar al-Emadi, senior consultant and head of Rheumatology Division, said HMC’s Rheumatology Division is aiming to become the first state-of-the-art Rheumatic Diseases Care Center in Qatar. She says HMC has a proven track record in pioneering rheumatology programs, noting that her department launched a specialist antenatal clinic for pregnant women with lupus, the first of its kind in the Middle East.
“We have recorded very good results under our Rheumatic Disease Pregnancy Service. Under this service, we have successfully cared for women who are affected by rheumatic diseases, or who are vulnerable to developing rheumatic diseases while pregnant. Our success rate has been one of the best in the Gulf region and globally,” stated Dr al-Emadi.
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