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Can Gout Increase The Risk For Kidney Disease?

Topic Overview

There have been many studies done previously which have established a clear link between gout and kidney function.  Working on these findings further and latest studies have reported that in fact having a diagnosis of gout increases the risk of developing kidney disease significantly.  The study also highlights different ways to decrease this risk as well.[1]

An individual is said to have chronic kidney disease if he or she has had decreased kidney function for a prolonged period of time. Studies estimate that around 15% of people in the United States suffer from chronic kidney disease.  There are well known risk factors for chronic kidney disease to include hypertension, diabetes, and nicotine abuse.[1]

However, there are certain new risk factors that have emerged over the past few years which also can affect the functioning of the kidney. Among the various studies published, the latest one which was published in the BMJ Open has highlighted the role of gout as a potential risk factor for development of chronic kidney disease. This article explains in detail as to how gout increases the risk of an individual of having chronic kidney disease.[1]

Can Gout Increase The Risk For Kidney Disease?

Can Gout Increase The Risk For Kidney Disease?

Gout is an extremely painful condition that affects the joints. It develops due to increased levels of uric acid in the body.  This condition is quite common all around the world. The increased level of uric acid in the body is medically referred to as hyperuricemia. This condition develops when uric acid starts to accumulate forming crystals in the joints. The big toe is the most common area where there is accumulation of uric acid crystals. With more and more crystals of uric acid being accumulated, it starts to cause pain and restricted movement of the joint.[1]

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis affecting around 8 million people in the United States.  Studies that have been done previously have established a clear link between gout and how the kidney functions.  A study done in 2012 proved that a malfunctioning kidney was a major risk factor for gout. Further studies done on animals showed that the increased levels of uric acid in the body had the capacity to damage the kidneys.[1]

Previous studies have also highlighted the relationship between hyperuricemia and kidney function.  In this regard, a study done on people with hyperuricemia showed that taking medications for decreasing the levels of uric acid also decreased the severity of their kidney issues.  Since there are a lot of commonalities between gout and kidney disease, a better understanding of these two conditions is important and despite a clear link being established between gout and kidney disease there is no conclusive evidence that an individual with gout will always end up having kidney dysfunction.[1]

To investigate this, researchers took information of about 70,000 people above the age of 18 years in the United Kingdom who had a diagnosis of gout and compared it with about 500,000 matched individuals who did not have this condition. Both the groups were followed for a period of approximately three and a half years.  For this study, they defined kidney dysfunction as being when the kidney is functioning below 10% of normal, history of kidney transplant or dialysis, fatality associated with kidney disease, and serum creatinine level that is twice above the normal range.[1]

Other factors like hypertension, diabetes, and history of cardiac ailment, substance abuse history, and medications that affect the functioning of the kidney were also taken into consideration. Despite taking everything into the account the results of the study were extremely surprising. While everyone in the research team were of the opinion that hyperuricemia was bad for the kidneys and people with gout were at an increased risk for kidney dysfunction, it was the magnitude of the risk that was revealed in the study that was surprising.[1]

The study revealed that people with gout had 30% more risk of developing kidney disease than people who did not have this condition. The risk was at its maximum for end stage kidney disease in people who had gout where the risk was almost twice when compared to people who did not have gout.  The research team therefore believed that gout was hence an independent risk factor for kidney disease and ultimately kidney failure.[1]

This finding is important as it takes the understanding of chronic kidney disease to an absolutely new level. It also gives them a better understanding on what to aim at when speaking of controlling the risk factor for chronic kidney disease which is to keep uric acid levels under control. Even though the nature of the study was quite vast in terms of the number of patients involved, it still does have limitations according to researchers.[1]

One of the limitations was that due to the large number of cases, the researchers had to depend on the doctors’ diagnosis of gout and could not conduct an independent examination of the participants.  However, in many cases gout remains undiagnosed so it is quite possible that this diagnosis may have been missed in many participants.[1]

Additionally, even though all the factors for chronic kidney disease including history of hypertension, cardiac problems, diabetes, substance abuse were all considered in the study, there may have been certain factors that may have been missed which may have a major role to play cite some researchers.  This is because of the observational nature of the study.[1]

In conclusion, it can be safely stated based on the study conducted that there is a clear link between uric acid levels, gout, and kidney disease.  However, further research needs to be done to identify whether controlling gout or uric acid levels can actually decrease the progression of chronic kidney disease and prevent the patient from going into kidney failure.[1]


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 9, 2020

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