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Arthritis Patients Remain Confused About the Safety of Pain Medications and Are Suffering

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– Doctors' Advice Can Help Guide Treatment Decisions – BOSTON, March 10 /PRNewswire/ —

New survey results unveiled today by the Rippe Lifestyle Institute (RLI) indicate that many arthritis patients are suffering because they have stopped or reduced their use of pain relievers due to confusion about which drugs are considered safe. Among this group, an overwhelming 68 percent reported a resulting decrease in their overall quality of life due to greater pain and limited physical activity.

"The worry that has spread throughout the patient community, and its impact on treatment, should be recognized as a significant public health concern," said James M. Rippe, M.D., a Harvard-trained cardiologist, an Associate Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Tufts University School of Medicine, and founder and director of RLI. "If people are in pain, they may become sedentary. They don't go about their daily lives. They don't exercise. This creates a spiral that can have a harmful effect on weight gain, blood pressure, diabetes and other related illnesses."

"The survey clearly indicates that health care professionals need to help their patients distinguish between the benefits and risks associated with all pain medications. Their discussion should include a review of the COX-2 inhibitor class, which is associated with an increase in cardiovascular risk, and more established prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) treatments, such as naproxen, which differ from the COX-2 class and have well-known safety profiles. By doing so, we can substantially improve the standard of care for those with arthritis pain," Rippe said. Significant Survey Findings *

Close to half — 46 percent — of arthritis patients polled reported that they are confused about which treatment options are safe to take for their arthritis pain. * Of those who have heard recent news about the safety of pain relievers, 48 percent revealed that they have reduced their medication or stopped treatment altogether. * As a result of these changes in treatment:
– Forty-two percent report they are experiencing more pain than before
– Twenty-one percent say they have stopped exercising
– Forty-nine percent have limited their physical activities.

What Patients Are Doing for Their Arthritis Pain  According to the survey, of those who consulted doctors about their arthritis treatment, 64 percent reported that their doctors recommended OTC medications for their arthritis pain. "When used as directed, over-the-counter pain medications, such as Aleve, can play an important role in preserving the health and well being of arthritis sufferers," Rippe said. "It is imperative that we in the health care community help our patients sort through this confusing and conflicting information and ultimately help them find the pain relief they need."

In an effort to further patient education, RLI is working with Bayer HealthCare's Consumer Care Division to develop an initiative to help raise awareness about the impact of osteoarthritis on patients' lives. The program will address the special needs of those with osteoarthritis and will include not only the important role that appropriate treatment can play, but also activities necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The Public Health Implications of Untreated Osteoarthritis  The chronic disability and quality of life impact of osteoarthritis is of great public health importance. In 2001, 49 million American adults reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis and another 21 million reported chronic joint symptoms. As the U.S. population ages, this number is likely to increase dramatically. About 80 percent of people with osteoarthritis report some form of limitation in movement or activities and the condition is responsible for seven million physician visits per year.

About The Rippe Lifestyle Institute Founded by James M. Rippe, M.D., The Rippe Lifestyle Institute is one of the leading research, communication and health promotion organizations in the world. Through research, publishing and partnering in health promotion and disease prevention projects, the various divisions and two locations of RLI are helping empower people to lead healthier lifestyles with the passion, commitment and performance that have made RLI a leading authority on lifestyle and health.

About the National Omnibus Survey These results are based on a telephone survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation's CARAVAN survey, March 4-7, 2005, among a national sample of 1,776 adults in private households. For results based on the total sample the margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points. For results based on smaller sub samples, the margin of error is larger. SOURCE Rippe Lifestyle Institute

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