Posts Tagged diseases associated with gout

New Research: Allopurinol Can Help You Live Longer

New research published in the medical journal, Rheumatology, has shown that lowering uric acid levels using the medication allopurinol can result in a significant decrease in the risk of death.

Recent research has shown that high levels of uric acid have been strongly associated with diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity.  However, little is known about the effects of lowering uric acid levels on the risk of these diseases and even less is known about whether or not lowering uric acid levels can actually extend life.  This is one of the first research studies that has shown a strong correlation between lowering uric acid levels and living a longer life.

This study, that followed almost 10,000 people, showed an average reduction in uric acid levels of 1.86mg/dL (111µmol/L).  This resulted in an overall reduction in the risk of death by about 22%.

Unfortunately, we do not yet understand the mechanisms by which uric acid causes disease.  The current theory is that uric acid, when it reaches high levels, is constantly forming crystals in all parts of the body, not just the joints as in gout.  These crystals are spotted by the immune system and spark an immune response that increases inflammation.  This inflammation has been identified as a leading cause of some of the most deadly diseases mentioned above.

Hopefully, researchers will soon find proof as to exactly how uric acid causes disease.  This information will is the next step in finding the best means of dealing with high uric acid levels.

In the meantime, this new research shows us that fighting gout by lowering uric acid levels is not only the best way of stopping gout attacks, but may also be helping us live a longer and healthier life.

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Gout: The Forgotten Disease

I think what’s most amazing about medical science is how small it’s focus has become. I’m not talking about the scale of medical science, or the focus on making people healthy, but on the scale at which it is studying the complex mechanisms of the human body.

Over the past few hundred years medical science has gone from looking at the structure of the body, to its organs, down to the cells that make up those organs and now down to the most tiny and intricate molecular machines that make everything actually work. Molecules so small and sophisticated that ever the most advanced microscopes in the world can only view them dimly and we are only just beginning to grasp how they actually function.

However, this all seems to be changing. This focus on the very small has obscured a larger reality – that the human body is a large, unimaginably complex and integrated machine – a single machine. If something is broken in one part of that machine, the function of the whole suffers.

I think that more and more researchers are starting to get their heads out of their microscopes and starting to look at what happens to the whole machine when those microscopic machines misbehave. And I think this will be the next great step forward for medical science.

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Kidney Stones, a Gout Early Warning?

The “German Professional Association of Internists” released a statement on Monday saying that kidney stones may be an early warning sign for gout.  The statement claimed that as many as 40% developed kidney stones as a first indication of gout.

This makes sense.  It had been known for a long time that high levels of uric acid in the body can cause increased levels of uric acid excreted by the kidneys.  This excess uric acid can form uric acid kidney stones.  Not only that, but uric acid crystals can serve as a catalyst for the formation of kidney stones based on other substances such as calcium.
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Gout in Women

A friend of mine once asked, “Gout?  Isn’t that the old, rich, fat man’s disease?”  Besides being uncharitable, this statement is wrong on pretty much all counts.

  1. People are developing gout at a much younger age now days thanks to the high-fructose corn syrup and other unhealthy dietary habits, but it is still rare for anyone under the age of thirty to get gout – hardly ‘old’.
  2. Now days, you don’t need to be rich to live a sedentary lifestyle and eat the unhealthy foods that helped gout develop its reputation as being a rich person’s disease.
  3. Gout is mostly influenced by genetics, so even those that are not “fat” can get gout.
  4. It’s not just a man’s disease….

Gout: Not Just for Men Anymore

Gout has long been considered male disease because estrogen plays a powerful role in keeping uric acid levels down in women.  However, once women hit menopause, estrogen levels decrease and uric acid levels rise.  In fact, after menopause, women are just as likely to develop gout as men of the same age.
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Gout and the Sleep Apnea Connection

There is a frequently overlooked factor that can cause an acute increase in the concentration of uric acid in the blood as well as increased likelihood of its precipitation as MSU (monosodium urate or uric acid crystals. See, Gout Basics for background). That factor is the reduction of the concentration of oxygen in the blood, which occurs in an individual suffering from sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is the repeated cessation of breathing for many seconds at a time during sleep, when the muscles lining the airway relax enough to allow it to close, until the brain jolts them to reopen. The resulting reduction of oxygen in the blood causes the cells in the body to undergo a process of disintegration, which leads to their generation of excess uric acid. Once the uric acid is formed, the process is irreversible, even when breathing restarts. With each apneic period, more and more uric acid is fed into the blood, faster than the kidneys can dispose of it. Furthermore, the increased ratio of carbon dioxide to oxygen in the blood makes the blood more acidic, so that its ability to hold uric acid in solution is reduced and MSU is more likely to precipitate. These processes were described in medical journal literature about twenty years ago, and subsequent literature has confirmed that sleep apnea leads to excess uric acid in the blood and in the urine.
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Why is Gout so Often Mismanaged

I often quote the statistic that 78% of doctors do not properly manage gout. This statistic is true (based on the research study that reported it) but the big question is, why? This article with take a look at this question.

First off, let me start by saying that I am not someone that bashes doctors and the medical community or says things like, “all doctors are arrogant, lazy, over-paid idiots.”  Though, as with any profession, there will always be some that fit this description, most doctors are caring, compassionate, highly competent people that do a fantastic job.  The problem however, is that the medical profession is the victim of technology, its own success and its failures…
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Top 10 Gout Myths

I am always taken aback at the number and persistence of gout myths. Just read a few Internet web pages on gout and gout treatments and it won’t take you long to find contradicting information – even from supposedly reputable sites. These myths are one of the key reasons why the quality of gout care for gout has fallen so much over the past few decades. Bad information keeps getting passed on – over and over. This article will help you understand some of these myths and learn the truth.

Myth #1: Gout is curable. There are tons of websites out there that promise “gout cures” if only you send them some amount of money. The truth is, that for 90% of cases, gout is a genetic condition. This is why gout often runs in families. Genetic conditions cannot be cured, only managed. The other 10 % of cases are called secondary gout. These are usually caused by some underlying medical condition. Some of these conditions can be very serious such as lymphoma or kidney disease. Only a small number of cases are truly ‘curable’. These cases are usually caused by high blood pressure medications called diuretics or extreme obesity. If you have gout, your doctor should check for a secondary cause of gout, if none is found, then you have a genetic condition that can only be managed.
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