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Women Must Treat Gout to Avoid Higher Heart Attack Risk

July 21, 2011 by Lena.

Women have a lower risk of developing gout than men, but the consequences of the disease can be much more severe. Women who do develop gout have a 40% increased chance of having a heart attack, whereas men's chances of heart attack are increased by only 11%. Understanding and avoiding the triggers of gouty arthritis, and recognizing the symptoms of gout, can help to minimize these risks.

Women who drink two or more servings of sugary drinks (soda and juice) have twice the risk of developing gout than women who drink these beverages less than once per month. Alcoholic beverages carry similar risks; consuming 7 ounces of spirits a week (about five drinks) doubles a man's chances of developing gouty arthritis, but triples a woman's chances. Similarly, high beer consumption doubles the chances of gout in men, but increases it seven times in women.

While sugary and alcoholic beverages increase uric acid levels, that alone does not explain the increased risk in women. Studies show that women with elevated uric acid levels are actually less likely to develop gout than men with the same levels. Researchers do not yet understand what causes the increased risk of gout in men compared to gout in women, or why it increases the risk of heart attacks, but there is plenty you can do to reduce the risk and treat the disease.

A diet that limits sugary drinks will not only reduce the risk of developing gouty arthritis, but can also help in maintaining a healthy weight another important factor in avoiding gout and heart disease. If you are at risk for gout it is important to follow other dietary guidelines, such as limiting or eliminating red meat and fatty fish intake, and eating lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Regular exercise can also help lower risks.

If you experience the symptoms of gout (red, hot, swollen and painful joints especially at the base of the big toe) contact your doctor, who may direct you to take painkillers and/or anti-inflammatory medication. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a gout medication such as colchicine tablets (name brand Colcrys) to prevent flare ups and aid in pain relief during an attack. Cheaper generic colchicine is no longer available in the US, but you can still buy colchicine from Canada with a valid prescription.

Other common medications for gout include corticosteroids and uric acid reducers such as allopurinal and probenecid.

Filed under: Gout Risk.

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