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29 August 2007 @ 03:54 pm
Gout and Heart Disease  
Remember back in Algebra class, when you learned that if A = B and B = C, then A = C? Well, medicine doesn't always work like math, with simple, straightforward lines of reasoning. Here's a good example:

Gout is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by high levels of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia). Studies have shown that many inflammatory disorders are associated with premature death from various causes. Other studies, however, have NOT seen any link between hyperuricemia and heart disease. So is gout linked to heart disease and premature death, or not? Researchers at Harvard University, together with colleagues from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, devised a prospective study (one following subjects over time) to see if they could clarify the relationship, if any, between heart disease and gout. Their findings were published in the most recent issue of Circulation (2007;116:894-900).

The researchers made use of data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. This large-scale study followed over 51,000 male health professionals beginning in 1986. The subjects' demographics, health status for various diseases and conditions, and personal habits were evaluated by written questionnaire every two years. Using that information, plus supplemental questionnaires specifically concerning gout, the researchers were able to correlate the respondents who reported having a diagnosis of gout with their incidence of heart disease.

They found that compared to those men who did not have gout at the start of the study, those who did have gout were more likely to die of heart disease than those without. Their risk, in fact, increased by 55%. Further, the longer a subject had gout, the more likely they were to die of heart disease: up to 78% more likely for those with gout for over 11 years.
What this means for you

If you are diagnosed with gout, you'll want to confer with your doctor about your risk of heart disease and do all you can to avoid it. In the mean time, as I've reported in another News Bite (May 30, 2007), be sure to drink coffee!