Gout And Heart Attacks: Is There A Link?
A 2006 study of almost 13,000 men has shown that gout indeed is a risk for heart attacks. While not a huge risk factor, there is a link between gout and heart attacks that cannot go unnoticed. Eswar Krishnan, MD, MPH, of the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine reported that in a study of 12, 866 men, gout seems to be the third largest risk factor for heart disease, following smoking and family history. Having gout adds 26% to a man's likelihood of having a heart attack.
Heart Attacks and Gout
It should be noted that common risk factors for gout and heart attacks are similar. A man who is obese, has high blood pressure, diabetes or an excessive use of alcohol is more likely to develop gout and heart attacks separately. By reducing these risk factors, a man can reduce the risk of developing gout and heart attacks at the same time.
What is Gout?
Gout is caused by an excessive amount of uric acid in the blood stream, also called hyperuricemia. Uric acid is a naturally occurring component of the human body, however an excess of uric acid can in some people lead to a build up of crystals. These crystals usually form around and in a joint, causing painful swelling and inflammation. Gout attacks usually last from a few hours to a few days, or even a few weeks; after the attack, the pain seems to just disappear, although the area may be sore. Some people never experience another attack, others must take medication to reduce levels of uric acid in their blood.
Gout Risk Factors
Common risk factors of gout include being male, obesity, family history, alcohol consumption, joint injury, diabetes and heart disease. Certain medications can increase risk factors for gout such as diuretics, immune system suppressants or aspirin. A diet rich in high-fat dairy, or high purine foods like red meat and seafood also increases the risk of gout.
Can I Lower My Risk for Gout and Heart Attacks?
Yes. There are many ways to reduce your risk of gout and heart attacks. Simply be getting plenty of exercise, eating a balanced diet and removing alcohol and tobacco use from your life will dramatically lower your risk. Lowering cholesterol and alleviating stress should help as well, as both can trigger and add to the risk of gout and heart attacks.