Many people have heard of gout. They may even know that it’s a form of inflammatory arthritis that usually attacks joints. But it’s doubtful they know that 9 million Americans suffer from it. Or how painful and debilitating attacks can be.
Gout Awareness Day – May 22 – offers an opportunity to get up to speed.
And understanding gout may be more important than ever before. New research suggests that chronic gout “may not be as benign as originally thought.” According to a 2020 study, new testing technology has found gout-causing uric acid deposits beyond the joints, in organs all over the body. These include the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, the spine, eyes, skin and the gastrointestinal system.
The authors speculate that inflammation in these other parts of the body may be the link behind frequent comorbidities, including hypertension, kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
More uric acid in the blood, they found, equates to greater prevalence of these comorbidities.
Build up of uric acid deposits were once thought rare. But thanks to advanced diagnostic testing it’s now known that they are common. Through increased use of this new technology, researchers will continue learning more about how gout impacts the bodies of those who live with it.
Gout can be cripplingly painful – and left untreated, its symptoms can worsen. Its trademark joint pain can lead to structural joint deformity and bone damage. Gout can also progress to kidney stones and renal disease, and lead to sleep apnea and depression, among other complications.
And new research based on advanced diagnostic scans hints that gout could prove even more threatening than was previously known. The more gout is discussed, the more patients can be diagnosed and treated – and potentially, now, helped more than ever before.
This Gout Awareness Day, gout patients, their families and the entire medical community have more reason than ever to be aware, share their experiences and the reap the benefits of a more informed and healthier future.