Rheumatic Diseases discussed in Dubai
Over 50 Rheumatology experts and clinical researchers from the Gulf region met for a two-day scientific conference entitled: “Achieve More in Life with Rheumatic Diseases Management,” at the Jebel Ali Hotel in Dubai. The conference focused on Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis and Psoriatic Arthritis. “During this symposium we discussed the latest advances in the management of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), which affect 1% of the total world population and women are 3 times more affected than men," said Dr. Hamdy Affifi, Head of Rheumatology Department at Department of Health and Medical Services in Dubai, who chaired the first day of the symposium. "RA causes pain, stiffness, and swelling around the joints. RA is an "autoimmune" disease where the patient’s own immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, causing inflammation that damages the joints like knees, wrists and finger joints. Over time, patients with RA often find that their joints are stiff and do not move properly, causing them considerable pain and disability.” The first key note speaker was Dr. Mohamed Hammoudeh Head of Rheumatology Department in Hamad Hospital in Qatar added: “Early diagnosis and treatment of RA is very important to stop the joints damage and patients with RA should seek a medical advice if they have joints that are painful, warm and swollen. RA often affects the wrist and finger joints closest to the hand, also the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles, and feet can be affected." Dr. Hammoudeh highlighted that RA has a negative impact on patients’ work productivity and increase the number of absence days from work. RA recent international treatment guidelines recommend early treatment of RA patients with a biologic drug. However to get an early diagnosis, a rheumatologist needs to be consulted and it is important that primary care physicians provide an early referral to a rheumatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.” Dr. Merinda Beale Consultant Rheumatologist at Zayed Military Hospital in Abu Dhabi, highlighted on Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) which is another painful Chronic rheumatic debilitating disease that leads to stiffening and subsequent fusion of the spine. AS affects men more than women and frequently goes unrecognized until permanent damage occurs. Typical symptoms of AS include, slow onset of lower back pain and early-morning stiffness over weeks or months rather than hours or days. Patient feels better after exercise and worse after rest, and if the disease left untreated the patient will suffer from loss of motion, spine deformity and disability. The third speaker was Dr. S. Uppal Head of Rheumatology Department in Mubarak Al Kabeer Hospital in Kuwait. Dr. Uppal emphasized on Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) which is a specific type of arthritis that usually occurs in approximately 23% of people who have psoriasis. Psoriasis is a skin disease characterized by sliver scaly rashes that affects men and women equally and can develop at any age. In most instances, symptoms occur as long as 10 years before the patient begins to suffer from arthritis symptoms such as stiffness, pain, swelling and tenderness of the joints. "Management of RA, AS and PsA has entered a new era as patients’ expectations of disease remission is increased with the biologic drugs such as Remicade, I believe we can meet patients’ expectations with these drugs that works by blocking the immune system from overproduction of a protein called TNF-alpha, which is believed to be the major cause for these diseases," said Dr. Jamal Al Saleh Rheumatology specialist in Dubai Hospital-UAE. "Knowing the importance of these drugs, Ministries of Health in Gulf countries made them available for patients in most of the hospitals." The conference was sponsored by Schering-Plough which is a global research-based health care company with leading drugs and research and development in the field of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
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