Chronic inflammation is insidious. Not only does it lead to joint pain for those with inflammatory arthritis, but it also acts on blood vessels in the body, raising the risk for strokes and heart attacks.
Comparing risk factors for gout and diabetes
Researchers wanted to find out the extent of heart attack and stroke risk for people with gout. Specifically, they wanted to see if those with gout face as much risk as those with diabetes, a well-known cause of cardiovascular problems.
To do this, researchers examined 3 years’ worth of health claims records and categorized them into 4 groups of people who had:1
- Both gout and diabetes
- Neither condition
The researchers examined the rates of incidence for heart attacks and strokes for all 4 groups. Although those with gout had a significantly lower risk for a heart attack than those with diabetes, the study revealed that their risk for stroke was about the same.
How those with gout can lower stroke risk
The study suggests that people with gout and their doctors should monitor stroke risk factors and lower them when possible.
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Fortunately there are several risk factors for stroke that you can help control:
- Keep your blood pressure in check. Managing high blood pressure is the most important step you can take to lower stroke risk. You can do this by taking your medications, eating a low-salt, well balanced diet, and staying physically active.
- Stop smoking. Quitting tobacco usage can be a struggle, but tools like counseling and nicotine replacement therapy can make it easier.
- Stay active. Exercise can combat multiple stroke risk factors at once—it not only lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, but it can help you manage your weight as well.
- Eat a healthy diet. Aim to eat mostly fruits and vegetables, plant-based proteins like beans and nuts, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. If you’re following a low purine diet to prevent gout attacks, you’re already doing well.
It’s also important to know the signs of stroke, because the sooner a stroke is treated, the better chance for good outcomes.
Signs of a stroke come on suddenly and may include:
- Weakness or numbness on one side of the body
- Slurred speech or difficulty understanding
- Vision problems
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Severe headache with no known cause
If these symptoms occur, call 911 for emergency help.
- Singh, J.A., et al. Is gout a risk equivalent to diabetes for stroke and myocardial infarction? A retrospective claims database study. Arthritis Res Ther (2017) 19: 228.