People who have gout may need to be cautious of an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. New research from the University of Nottingham suggests that cardiovascular risks increase in the four months after a gout flare.
Gout is a form of arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. The uric acid can form crystals in the joints, leading to inflammation and pain. Gout can occur suddenly, often following a period of high uric acid levels in the blood, or it can 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 uric acid levels in the blood and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.
Although no previous studies have been recorded, people with gout have been noted to have more cardiovascular risk factors. In this new study, researchers analyzed whether there was a temporary increase in the risk of stroke or heart attack after a gout flare.
For the study, researchers analyzed data from 62,574 patients with gout treated in the National Health Service in the UK. Of these, 10,475 experienced strokes or heart attack after being diagnosed with gout, while others of similar age, sex, and duration of gout did not experience such events.
It was found that gout patients who suffered a heart attack or stroke were twice as likely to have had a gout flare in the 60 days prior to the event. They were also one and a half times more likely to have a gout flare in the preceding 61-120 days. Patients who died from a stroke or heart attack had over four times the odds of experiencing a gout flare in the preceding 61-120 days.
Professor Abhishek, the lead author of the study, said, “People with gout should be encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle with appropriate treatment of 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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