Flares can increase the risk of heart attack

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Gout is a type of arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid in the body. FG Trade/Getty Images
  • Gout is painful arthritis centered in one or more joints.
  • The condition is caused by high levels of uric acid in a person’s body.
  • Researchers say a person with gout is more likely to have a heart attack or stroke within 60 days of a flare-up.

Gout, a type of arthritis, was once known as the “disease of kings” because of the extravagant diet and alcohol consumption of royalty such as King Henry VIII, who was known to suffer from it.

However, for those who have gout, there is nothing royal about it.

The condition is often accompanied by pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in one or more joints, most commonly the big toe.

Researchers already know that people with gout can experience several complications — from joint damage to bursitis to bone loss and kidney damage.

well, one to learn Reports released today by the University of Nottingham in the UK show that the risk of heart attack and stroke temporarily increases in the four months following a gout attack.

The research, in collaboration with experts from Keele University, showed that people with gout who had a heart attack or stroke were twice as likely to have a gout attack in the 60 days before the event. They were also one and a half times more likely to have a gout attack in the previous 61 to 120 days.

“This is the first large study to examine whether flare-ups are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke,” Dr. Abhishek Abhishek, lead author of the study and a professor of rheumatology at the University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine, told Healthline.

Abhishek and his colleagues used anonymized data from 62,574 people with gout treated by the National Health Service in the UK.

Of these, 10,475 experienced a heart attack or stroke after their gout diagnosis, while others of similar age, gender, and gout duration did not experience such events.

Researchers assessed the association between heart attack or stroke and recent gout flare-ups, adjusting for comorbidities, socioeconomic disadvantage, lifestyle factors, and prescribed medications, among other things.

“The results show that in patients with gout, patients who have experienced a heart attack or stroke had a significantly increased likelihood of having a gout attack in the previous 120 days compared to patients who did not experience such events,” Abhishek said in a press statement .

“These results suggest that gout flares are associated with a transient increase in cardiovascular events after flares,” he added.

Abhishek explained that people with recurrent gout flares should be considered for long-term treatment with uric acid-lowering drugs such as allopurinol.

This therapy, he said, is a reliable way to remove urate crystal deposits and relieve gout attacks.

Other treatments for flare-ups consist of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, steroids, and the anti-inflammatory drug colchicine, but some people have side effects.

Abhishek said people with gout should be encouraged “to adopt a healthy lifestyle with appropriate management of conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes to minimize their background risk of heart attack and stroke.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no cure for gout. However, there are things you can do to keep gout at bay.

The CDC lists the following conditions as things that can increase the risk of gout:

  • obesity
  • heart failure.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes
  • Poor kidney function.
  • Use of certain medications such as diuretics (water pills).
  • Drinking alcohol and eating or drinking foods and drinks high in fructose (a type of sugar).

Gout is caused by high levels of uric acid, a chemical produced by the breakdown of tissues in the body and found in certain foods and drinks.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, purine compounds can increase uric acid levels.

Excess uric acid can produce uric acid crystals, which then collect in soft tissues and joints, causing the painful symptoms of gout.

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