Does Gout Affect the Heart?
The occurrence of tophi (lumpy urate crystals under the skin) and kidney stones are some complications from gout. As well we know that gouty arthritis is triggered by the excess uric acid in the blood that moves to the joint and creates needle-like crystals, causing inflammation. But can this kind of arthritis affect the heart, too?
Someday in the future, a blood test may help predict and reveal whether an individual is at risk of heart failure. According to a study published in the Journal of ‘Circulation: Heart Failure’, one of indicators comes from high uric acid in the blood (medically called hyperuricemia).
Uric acid is a breakdown product of purine (a protein that you can get from many different foods). The elevated level (greater than normal) of this acid in the body is the major risk factor of gout, as noted before.
For many years, we have known that there is a link between high uric acid and heart problem. High level of this acid may affect the risk of having a heart attack later in life.
In fact, hyperuricemia is associated with some risk factors of heart problems – these include hypertension, obesity, and kidney disease. It also has been known as a signal for adverse prognosis and outlook in patients who have had heart failure.
But the challenging question: Is hyperuricemia an independent cardiac risk factor? Unfortunately, this issue is not clearly yet and still debatable.
According to a study in 2009, the incidence of heart attack rates was greater among people with hyperuricemia. In this study, researcher had adjusted a long list of many variables related to the risk of heart failure – such as alcoholic factor, diabetes, kidneys problem, obesity (weight), and smoking.
However, some prior-studies showed that high uric acid may not have direct effect. Other studies are continuously going to find the answer of whether hyperuricemia (such as in people with gout) has a direct link in causing heart problems, such as heart attacks.
Whatever the real answer of the direct link between high uric acid and the risk of heart failure, having hyperuricemia should not be ignored. You need to pay extra attention to something that goes to become imbalance, including for the imbalance of your uric acid level!
Normally, the level of your uric acid is regulated as well in the body. Any excess uric acid will be filtered by the kidneys and it goes away with urine when you pee. In other words, your kidneys can play a key role to help maintain the normal levels of your uric acid in the bloodstream.
But if you have gout, you have greater tendency of having elevated uric acid. And high uric acid can be an alarm for a gout attack to recur. Therefore, you need to follow the treatment plan as well to prevent your gout flare-ups!
According to an article released in the Harvard Medical School, the direct effect of hyperuricemia may cause damage to the smoothness of the inside of arteries or other blood vessels. This damage can affect platelets (blood cells) and make them stickier, making the blood easier to clot.
Although gouty arthritis has been linked with a raised risk for a heart attack – but again, the role of gout and high uric acid ‘as the independent risk factor’ to contribute to the increased risk of heart problem is still ‘questionable’!
However, it’s clear that gout can give contribution to cause other risk factors of cardiovascular disease.
The risk factors of heart problem that can come together with gout may include: