July 2019

Gout: Well Known, But Misunderstood

Gout may be well known, but there is a tremendous misunderstanding of what it takes to treat this serious inflammatory disease. Those are among the findings of a recent survey conducted for the Gout Education Society by Wakefield Research. The online survey of 1,000 nationally representative Americans, ages 18+, with an oversampling of 100+ interviews of adults who have been diagnosed with gout was conducted in the spring of 2019.

According to survey, two-thirds of gout patients have not had their uric acid levels checked within the past 6 months, as recommended by the American College of Rheumatology. Additionally, while just half of gout sufferers say their uric acid level is at the recommended 6.0 mg/dL or below, only 1 in 3 is taking uric acid-lowering medications, as prescribed—and nearly 2 in 3 incorrectly believe they can stop taking these medications if they aren’t having flares.

“Elevated uric acid in the body is the root cause of gout, so it’s critical for anyone with gout to take steps to ensure that levels are at a healthy 6.0 mg/dL or below,” said N. Lawrence Edwards, MD, MACP, MACR, chairman of the Gout Education Society. “In most cases, daily uric acid-lowering medications are needed to keep levels low and flares at bay—and these medications need to be taken even after flares are under control. Not taking this step can put gout patients at risk for increased flares and damage, plus other serious health complications—ranging from diabetes, to kidney disease, to heart attack and stroke.”

In addition to non-adherence by many gout patients, nearly 70% admitted to not eliminating or reducing foods known to trigger gout flares, and nearly 60% admitted that they aren’t maintaining a healthy body weight.

Gout Is Widely Misunderstood

According to the survey, many Americans—and even those with gout—don’t fully understand the disease or its risk factors.

  • 7 in 10 do not know that gout is a form of arthritis.
  • 4 in 10 don’t know that the disease can affect both men and women.
  • Half of Americans falsely believe that gout only affects the feet and/or toes.
  • Few Americans also understand the risk factors for gout, including elevated uric acid levels (51% don’t know); family history (45% don’t know); and obesity (61% don’t know).
  • Additionally, even fewer Americans associate gout with other serious health issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease/kidney health issues.

“This reinforces a tremendous need to provide ongoing education about gout and the consequences of not seeking prompt and ongoing treatment,” added Dr. Edwards.

Additional information and gout resources—including a new medical professional locator—are available, free-of-charge, at GoutEducation.org.

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