Risks of heart attack and stroke increase due to gout flare-ups: study

Foot pain, man suffering from foot pain at home, podiatry conceptPeople with gout may need to watch out for an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. New research from the University of Nottingham suggests that cardiovascular risks increase in the four months following a gout attack.

Gout is a form of arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid can form crystals in the joints, leading to inflammation and pain. Gout can come on suddenly, often after a period of high blood uric acid levels, or develop gradually over time.

The most common gout symptom is severe joint pain, usually in the big toe. Other symptoms may include redness and swelling in the joint, warmth and stiffness in the joint, and a limited range of motion. It can be treated with medications that help lower blood uric acid levels and lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise.

Although no previous studies have been recorded, people with gout have been found to have more cardiovascular risk factors. In this new study, the researchers analyzed whether there was a temporary increase in the risk of a stroke or heart attack after a gout attack.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 62,574 patients with gout treated by the UK’s National Health Service. Of these, 10,475 suffered strokes or heart attacks after being diagnosed with gout, while others of similar age, gender and gout duration did not experience such events.

It found that gout patients who had a heart attack or stroke were twice as likely to have had 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 61-120 days. Patients who died from a stroke or heart attack were four times more likely to have had a gout attack in the previous 61 to 120 days.

Professor Abhishek, the study’s lead author, said: “People with gout should be encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle with appropriate treatment for conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes to minimize their background risk of heart attack and stroke.”

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