The prevalence of gout – said to be the most painful form of arthritis – in the UK has increased substantially in recent years according to a study by the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases journal. Between 1997 and 2012 cases of gout rocketed by 64 per cent, increasing four per cent a year.
The disease is particularly prevalent in those who are overweight, associated with high blood pressure and diabetes sufferers. A build up of needly sharp sodium urate crystals – also known as uric acid – in the blood stream clogs the flow and results in swelling, sudden pain and redness. Usually it affects the big toe but can spread anywhere.
Rates were found to be four time higher among men than women, with the most cases prevailing in Wales and north-east England. Researchers on the study, performed by City Hospital in Nottingham, say that the problem lies in not enough people suffering having access to suitable medication. In 2012, less than 20 per cent of patients diagnosed with gout received medication within six months of their diagnoses; only one in four received medication within a year.
Heavy consumption of spirits and beer can cause gout, as well as red meat and even seafood. This is the reason that gout had a traditional affinity with the rich and well-to-do in centuries passed. It can happen to anyone though – but can be managed through a change to a healthier lifestyle and exercise. [BBC]