10 Facts and Statistics About Autoimmune Diseases

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by Marta Ribeiro |

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An autoimmune disorder occurs when the body’s immune system malfunctions. It mistakenly identifies healthy cells as foreign cells and starts attacking and destroying them. Scleroderma is just one of many autoimmune diseases. It’s a chronic rheumatic disease that affects the body by hardening connective tissue.

MORE: Seven interesting facts you should know about Raynaud’s

With help from the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), we’ve put together some facts and statistics about autoimmune diseases.

  1. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that approximately 23.5* million Americans live with an autoimmune disease and that its prevalence is on the rise.
  2. On the other hand, AARDA says that 50* million Americans live with an autoimmune disease.
    (*The NIH only includes 24 diseases for which they had epidemiology studies they considered appropriate available.)
  3. Initial symptoms are often varied, and come and go until the disease becomes acute.
  4. Researchers have identified between 80 and 100 different autoimmune diseases.
  5. These autoimmune diseases are usually chronic and may be life-threatening.
  6. Researchers also suspect that at least another 40 diseases have an autoimmune basis.
  7. Autoimmune diseases are one of the 10 leading causes of death for girls and women in all age groups (up to 64 years of age).
  8. In 2003, NIH research funding for autoimmune disease was $591 million.
  9. The NIH Autoimmune Diseases Research Plan states: “Research discoveries of the last decade have made autoimmune research one of the most promising areas of new discovery.”
  10. According to the NIH, annual direct health care costs for autoimmune diseases are in the range of $100 billion (source: NIH presentation by Dr. Fauci, NIAID).

MORE: Seven common misconceptions about scleroderma

Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.