Updated 25 November 2016

Risks of rheumatoid arthritis

Who gets Rheumatoid Arthritis and who is at risk?


About 1% of the population is affected, although we have no accurate prevalence figures for South Africa.

Women are affected about two to three times more often than men. The incidence increases with age, and the sex difference diminishes in older people. Rheumatoid arthritis is seen around the world and all races are affected.

It can start at any age and often affects young people. The peak onset is in the 4th and 5th decade, with 80% of people developing the disease between the ages of 35 and 50.

There is a strong genetic predisposition: severe rheumatoid arthritis is found at four times the expected rate in first-degree relatives of people with the disease.

Read more:

Causes of rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis


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Professor Asgar Ali Kalla completed his MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 1975 at the University of Cape Town and his FRCP in 2003 in London. Professor Ali Kalla is the Isaac Albow Chair of Rheumatology at the University of Cape Town and also the Head of Division of Rheumatology at Groote Schuur Hospital. He has participated in a number of clinical trials for rheumatology and is active in community outreach. Prof Ali Kalla is an expert in Arthritis for Health24.

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