The painful inflammatory joint condition may increase one’s risk of heart attack and stroke by 15%.
For years, we’ve known that those who suffer from gout could be at higher risk of heart disease. This week, however, the American Heart Association revealed their research, clarifying older studies, confirming the link between the inflammatory condition and heart health.
Dr. Neha Pagidipati and colleagues from Duke University, studied 17,000 patients and found that those who had gout were at higher risk of dying from their concomitant cardiovascular disease, including twice as likely to die from their heart failure if affected by it. She states, “Among patients who had gout at the beginning of the study or who developed it during follow-up, their risk of either dying of cardiovascular disease or having a heart attack or stroke was 15 percent higher than patients who never developed gout.”
What is Gout?
Gout is an inflammatory condition that can affect multiple parts of the body including the joints, kidneys, and heart.
Patients with gout may have higher levels of uric acid. Uric acid comes from the breakdown of purines, which are the building blocks to all living cells. Purines may come endogenously, from the body, or exogenously, from outside sources such as food.
The healthy body normally excretes excess uric acid, but in those with gout the excretion may be compromised, or too much uric acid may be produced. This may cause the formation of urate crystals which can precipitate and cause painful attacks in large joints such as the big toe and knee.
A gout attack comes on precipitously and can be extremely painful such that the patients want to avoid putting on clothing anywhere near the joint affected. When not suffering from a “gout attack”, a patient may be asymptomatic, but we suspect the elevated uric acid levels could cause baseline inflammation that may accelerate heart disease.
High, circulating uric acid levels may also cause kidney stones. Previous research has also linked elevated uric acid to diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. Since these three can increase one’s risk of heart disease and stroke it’s no wonder gout has been linked to the as well.
Treatment of a gout attack includes antiinflammatories or medications such as colchicine. Prevention of a gout attack includes medications to decrease uric acid such as allopurinol.
Moreover one can reduce his risk profile by the following:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Consuming less of the foods that produce purines such as meat, seafood and alcohol
- Avoiding fructose sweetened foods
- Avoiding the thiazide diuretics if one has high blood pressure and is prone to gout
According to the Arthritis Foundation, 6 million men and women in the US suffer from gout.