In a new study, researchers found that patients with gout are at increased risk of chronic kidney disease and kidney failure.
In one of the largest and most detailed studies ever conducted, patients recruited in general practice with a diagnosis of gout were more than twice as likely to develop kidney failure than those without.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Limerick (UL), Ireland and elsewhere.
Gout is the most common inflammatory arthritis which causes severe pain and suffering due to a build-up of uric acid in joints.
It affects almost 2.5 % of the adult population and causes significant pain and disability due to its effects on joints, tendons, and bone.
Treatments that lower uric acid levels in the bloodstream are effective in preventing both the acute flares of gout and the long-term damage it causes in joints, however current evidence shows that gout remains poorly managed in the population.
Chronic kidney disease is a common chronic condition that affects around 15% of adults in the Irish health system and has a major impact on a person’s health.
In the study, the team analyzed data from more than 620,000 patients in the UK health system.
They analyzed the risk of advanced chronic kidney disease in 68,897 gout patients followed for an average of 3.7 years and compared them to 554,964 patients without gout.
They found that gout patients were also more likely to suffer a short-term deterioration in kidney function, as well as a sustained deterioration of function to less than 10% of normal, compared to patients without gout.
In addition, patients who suffered from gout had a 29% higher risk of advanced chronic kidney disease compared to those without gout.
When the team looked at the risk of kidney failure and those who needed dialysis or a kidney transplant, they found that gout patients had more than a 200% higher risk of kidney failure than those without gout.
While scientists always believed that high levels of uric acid might be bad for kidneys and that patients with gout may have a higher risk of kidney failure, they were quite surprised by the magnitude of the risk imposed by gout in these patients.
The study sheds new light on the importance and potential impact of gout on kidney function.
Although previous studies have shown that gout patients have a higher burden of kidney disease, none has convincingly shown that gout can contribute to the development of kidney failure.
The lead author of the study is Professor Austin Stack, Foundation Chair of Medicine at UL GEMS.
The study is published in the BMJ Open.
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