NRAS launches online, interactive program to help people with rheumatoid arthritis

This Valentine’s Day, NRAS (National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society) is delighted to announce the launch of its online, interactive educational program ‘Love your Heart’. It will help those with the debilitating condition Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) understand why they are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and the impact RA can have on the most important organ - the heart.

Love Your Heart has been developed in partnership with Consultant Rheumatologist, Dr. Holly John. This follows extremely promising results that it achieved in a face-to-face group setting. NRAS is making the program widely available to everyone with this serious autoimmune condition so that they have the opportunity to find out why they are at increased risk of CVD and provide tools to help them lower their own individual CVD risk.

Dr. John commented:

The increased risk of CVD for RA sufferers has the same level of severity as those who suffer with type 2 diabetes. It’s astonishing how many people with RA don't know that their condition could be detrimental to their heart. Once aware, it’s very easy to manage risk factors that are within their control from home with a healthier lifestyle, so Love Your Heart will be able to significantly raise awareness of this and help to address this major co-morbidity which can shorten the lives of those with RA.

Love Your Heart is available for people to register for, free of charge, from 10 am today at: https://www.nras.org.uk/loveyourheart

It is an engaging, educational platform, where people who participate in the program will be able to:

•    understand the reasons why RA increases CVD risk

•    calculate a QRISK®2 score (a GP recognized prediction algorithm for CVD)

•    learn how to reduce the risk of CVD

•    log progress through a series of behavioral goals

Ailsa Bosworth, Founder and CEO of NRAS said:

In spite of the numbers of people with RA in the UK (>400,000) it does not have the public awareness of diseases such as Parkinson’s (127,000) and Multiple Sclerosis (100,000). It is still a relatively misunderstood and invisible disease. Getting to a diagnosis can therefore often be challenging as people don’t recognize the symptoms as a medical emergency. Equally, the increased risk of CVD is relatively unknown and so I’m really excited to have worked with Dr. John and hope that the Love your Heart program will help all those with RA, like myself, to lead a longer and healthier life by addressing those risk factors that are within our own control.

Currently, CVD accounts for just over a quarter of deaths in Britain and costs the economy billions in healthcare. Bosworth is hoping that NRAS’ Love Your Heart program will have a real impact on helping to reduce the risk of CVD in people with RA, she added:

We’re the first charity in our field to offer something like this. It is unique in that it not only provides patient education, but it also provides a goal setting structure through which patients can change their behavior. The data from this program will also significantly help rheumatologists and GPs, and will become a referral platform when people are diagnosed. This illustrates what can be achieved when patient-led charity organizations work alongside healthcare professionals and we are hugely excited by its potential.

Case study

Patient who participated in the face-to-face Love Your Heart program with Dr. John said:

Before I did this program, I thought that I was doing pretty well in terms of diet and exercise but it showed me that there was a lot I wasn’t aware of, that my knowledge of lifestyle factors wasn’t adequate and I needed to do more to help myself. I found it a valuable and life-changing experience to do this program.

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