The Diagnosis and Treatment of Gout

Robert G. Smith, DPM, MSc, RPh, CPed


US Pharmacist. 2009;34(5):40-47. 

In This Article

Risk Factors for Gout

A number of references by Choi et al have identified, explained, and reviewed the risk factors for the development of gout.[11,12,13] Nonmodifiable risk factors include being a male or a postmenopausal female, genetic influences, end-stage renal disease, and resulting major organ transplantation. Its prevalence increases with age, from 1.8/1,000 in people under the age of 45 years to 30.8/1,000 in those over age 65.[8] Elevated serum urate levels are also associated with increased risk.[8] Hypertension is a definite risk factor, as a significant percentage of patients with hyperuricemia will develop hypertension. Hyperuricemia and gout have been linked to other disease states including metabolic syndrome, cardiac disease, stroke, and renal disease.[8] The risk of gout correlates with truncal obesity, as measured by body mass index and waist-to-hip ratios.[8,11]

Avoidable risk factors include diet and medications. Foods that have been implicated in causing gout are red-organ meats, seafood, and foods containing high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose has been recognized as a cause of hyperuricemia.[8,14,15,16] Choi et al conducted a small prospective study that investigated the ability of diets high in fructose to induce higher serum urate levels relative to diets high in glucose or low in carbonates.[16] High alcohol intake, especially beer, is also a risk factor. The presence of guanosine in beer has been identified as the cause of gouty attacks.

Certain drugs used to treat gout, particularly thiazide diuretics and the cyclosporine administered to transplant patients, have been implicated with gouty attacks. Despite the cardioprotection offered by low-dose 81-mg aspirin, this drug may be associated with the precipitation of gout.[8,17] Commonly, the use of cyclosporine has been reported to cause a rapidly occurring type of gout, swiftly ascending and polyarticular in many cases. Roubenoff validates that these risk factors are increasing by reporting that gout incidence and prevalence have increased by twofold from 1970 to 1990.[18] Furthermore, Wallace et al have reported that the prevalence of gout has increased by two cases per 1,000 patients during the 1990s because of lifestyle changes.[19]