Gout is a form of arthritis that is caused by an excess of uric acid in the bloodstream. This causes crystals to form in the joints, typically in the big toe.
Results of a recent research project, carried out by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, indicates that people with existing risk factors for heart disease may have an increased risk for heart attack or stroke if they also develop .
The study involved over 9,000 men who were between 41 and 63 years old. They all had above average risk for heart disease, with factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking.
The researchers found that after 17 years the men who developed gout were 30% more likely to die from cardiac arrest or other cardiovascular disease than those without .
Not all men with elevated uric acid levels develop gout. Men in this study that had high levels of uric acid, but did not develop gout, did not have a higher risk of cardiovascular related death.
This study supports the findings in a 2004 study of 1,423 middle aged Finnish men. That research found that men with excess uric acid in the blood had a 250% greater risk of death from cardiovascular disease than those with normal levels.
One theory is that an excess of uric acid in the bloodstream causes “oxidative stress”, which results in the LDL cholesterol being oxidized. Oxidized LDL is viewed as more dangerous because it causes hardening and narrowing of the arteries.