Arthritis in Canadian Aboriginal Population



Among aboriginal people of Canada, severe forms of arthritis are five times more common than the rest of the Canadian population.

According to age-adjusted figures from Statistics Canada’s 2000 Canadian Community Health Survey, five per cent of off-reserve aboriginal people are affected by severe auto-immune arthritis that restricts their ability to work or participate in the community, compared to one per cent for non-aboriginal people.

Cheryl Koehn of Vancouver-based Arthritis Consumer Experts, a national advocacy and educational group, says these numbers are even more surprising considering the median age of the aboriginal population is younger (27 years) than the general population (38 years), according to the Statistics Canada 2001 census.

In fact, the prevalence of arthritis in reserves are even higher, according to other studies.

Genetics are more to blame as is the lifestyle of this people. More like the case of diabetes in this population group.

The rates for all types of the disease range between two and 2.5 aboriginal arthritis-sufferers for every non-aboriginal.

Dr. Dianne Mosher, a rheumatologist at Dalhousie University, says genetics are at the core of the high rate. As many as 70 per cent of the aboriginal population carry a gene that is associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

The news comes as no surprise to Shelley Henderson, health director at Campbell River’s Kwakiutl District Council health centre. The centre, which serves 10 tribal communities making up a population of about 3,000, assessed chronic conditions in the community in 1998 and found that arthritis topped the list.

Making the matter worse, is I guess the availability of treatments and treatments that might or might not be readily available for this population.

Find more details from The Windsor Star.

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