New research published in this month’s Rheumatology journal has found that having gout doubles the risk of heart attack and stroke. The research tracked the health of more than 205,000 gout patients using data spanning five decades to determine links between gout and heart attack and stroke.
The findings showed that gout patients are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke as those without gout. It is thought that the higher levels of uric acid which cause gout are also a strong risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
Conducted by scientists at the University of Oxford, the research used data from NHS England and the Office for National Statistics. Two sets of data for gout patients between 1963 and 2011 were used to track patients’ health and to determine the link between gout and heart attack and stroke in England.
These new findings highlight the need to address co-morbidities and include preventative measures within gout treatment to reduce heart attacks and stroke in gout patients.
Professor Rob Moots, editor of Rheumatology, said:
“This important study tells us that gout is a condition that is more than just a cause of severe pain, it is rather a disease that must be taken seriously and treated effectively to prevent unnecessary heart attacks and strokes.”
Dr Chris Deighton, president of BSR, said:
“This research reminds us that gout needs to be considered in a much broader context than just inflammatory arthritis. The vast majority of care for gout takes place in primary care, and it is quite right that people with suspected gout contact their GP. Patients and GPs need to know that gout is not only a highly curable form of arthritis, but these patients also need vigilance for their increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. High quality holistic care of people with gout may not only improve their quality of life, but also the quantity of years lived.”
Olena Seminog, lead researcher, said:
“By analysing a huge dataset spanning a long period of time for all of England our group found that gout patients have double the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke. This evidence could help to guide ways of improving cardiovascular health for people with gout, while also suggesting that more research is needed to reveal the effects of uric acid on our health.”
Gout is the most common inflammatory joint disease in the UK, affecting 1.5% of the population. It is caused by increased levels of uric acid in the blood. The excess uric acid causes crystals to form in the joints which cause severe pain and swelling.