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Chronic Diseases and Conditions

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Arthritis accounts for a substantial number of hospital admissions each year

Arthritis strikes nearly 18 percent of adults and is the leading cause of disability in the United States. In addition, arthritis accounts for a substantial number of hospitalizations each year, according to a study supported by AHRQ (HS07002 and HS11477). Rutgers University researchers, Dawne M. Harris, M.P.H., and Louise B. Russell, Ph.D., used a simulation model to estimate the impact of arthritis, smoking, and hypertension on the number of hospital admissions in all adults aged 45 to 74, and overweight adults aged 45 to 74. The simulation model was estimated from the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) and its Epidemiologic Followup Study (NHEFS) and was then applied to data from NHANES III adults.

Arthritis accounted for 6.2 percent of annual hospital admissions (8.1 admissions per 1,000 NHANES III adults). Current smoking accounted for 7 percent (9.1 admissions per 1,000), and residual hypertension (systolic blood pressure over 140 Hg/mm despite treatment) accounted for 2.3 percent (3 admissions per 1,000).

However, because arthritis is more prevalent in overweight adults, eliminating arthritis in overweight adults reduced hospital admission rates at baseline by 7.4 percent (11 fewer admissions per 1,000 overweight adults), while eliminating current smoking among overweight adults was associated with a 5.8 percent reduction in annual hospital admission rates (8.6 fewer admissions per 1,000 overweight adults). Elimination of residual hypertension in this group resulted in a reduction of only 2.7 percent in hospital admissions (4 fewer hospital admissions per 1,000 overweight adults).

More details are in "Hospitalizations attributable to arthritis, smoking, and hypertension: A comparison based on NHEFS and NHANES III," by Ms. Harris and Dr. Russell, in the August 15, 2005, Arthritis & Rheumatism 53(4), pp. 543-548.

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