Americans unaware of gout risk factors
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[June 10, 2011]
(ARA) - Most Americans need to
know more about the risk factors for gout, according to the findings
of a new consumer survey. Gout, sometimes called gouty arthritis, is
chronic and painful. If left untreated, it can become disabling. It
now affects an estimated 8.3 million Americans.
While 59 percent of Americans know that gout is a life-long disease,
most adults don't know what can put them - or their family members -
at risk, according to a national survey conducted by the Gout & Uric
Acid Education Society (GUAES). Gout is part of the arthritis family
and in fact is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis.
The telltale sign of a gout attack is usually sudden and often
debilitating pain, most frequently felt in the large joint of the
big toe. A flare up can hurt so much that it may require a trip to
the emergency room for relief. The culprit is a build-up of uric
acid crystals in the joints caused by too much uric acid in the
body. Everyone has uric acid in their body. It's naturally present
in small amounts, but when someone has an abnormally high level, it
can trigger a gout attack.
Americans don't have a good picture of other health conditions that
can increase their risk, according to the survey. Here's how
Americans fared when their knowledge of risk factors for gout was
put to the test:
* Only 1 in 10 Americans correctly cited cardiovascular disease as a
risk factor for gout.
* Just 1 in 3 Americans correctly reported that obesity is a risk
* One in 5 Americans knows that diabetes and kidney disease are also
* A mere 1 in 5 Americans made the connection that family history
can put you at risk.
"It's important to know if you may be at risk," says Dr. Brian
Mandell, chairman of medicine and a senior staff in Rheumatology and
Immunologic Diseases in the Center for Vasculitis Care and Research
at the Cleveland Clinic, and GUAES board member. "The survey
findings concern me because gout is associated with all of these
other serious health conditions that are also on the rise. Knowledge
is power, and like many other diseases, early diagnosis and
treatment is key."
Other risk factors for gout
With certain exceptions, gout develops in people age 45 or older. It
affects men more than women. Once a woman is post menopausal,
though, her risk is nearly the same as it is for men of her age.
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Here are some of the other risk factors to be aware of:
* Untreated high blood pressure
* High cholesterol
* Obesity - someone obese is four times more likely to develop gout
* Crash diets which can increase the amount of uric acid in the body
* A high-fructose diet, including sweetened soft drinks
* Excessive consumption of alcohol, especially beer
* Joint injury
* Kidney disease, which can come from high blood pressure or
* Use of certain medicines, especially diuretics or water pills
* Some anti-rejection medications used in transplant patients
While there's no cure for gout, a combination of medication and
lifestyle modifications may help those diagnosed manage the disease,
helping them to maintain their active lifestyle.
For more information about risk factors for gout, talk to your
doctor and visit www.GoutEducation.org. The website was developed by
GUAES, a nonprofit group of health care professionals who educate
the public and the health care community about gout and the related
health care consequences of hyperuricemia. It offers free
educational resources for patients and family members who may be at