Gout (cont.)

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What are complications of gout?

Gout can cause joint pain and stiffness and can also lead to chronic progressive damage to joint cartilage and bone. It can also lead to the accumulation of "clumps" of uric acid (tophi) in body tissues that can cause local injury to the body areas affected. Gout can also lead to kidney stones and elevated blood pressure (hypertension).

Can gout be prevented?

By adjusting the diet according to the recommendations above as well as maintaining a healthy body weight and adequate hydration, the risks of recurrent attacks can be reduced. Also, medications that can elevate the blood uric acid and cause hyperuricemia, such as thiazide diuretics, cyclosporine, nicotinic acid, levodopa, and low-dose aspirin should be avoided when possible.

It should be noted that for many people with gout the influence of an optimal diet is not adequate. Fortunately, medications that aggressively lower the blood uric acid level can be used to prevent gouty arthritis.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for patients with gout?

Attacks of gouty arthritis generally resolve within a week with the use of aggressive medications to reduce inflammation. Recurrent gouty arthritis is not only painful, but it can lead to permanent damage to cartilage and bone. Once it is decided to prevent recurrent gouty arthritis with uric acid-lowering medication, it is essential that the target blood uric acid level be maintained below 6.0 mg/dL. Ultimately, it is the low blood uric acid level that leads to a reduction in the risk for future flares of gout and further joint damage. Therefore, regular monitoring of the blood uric acid is best for optimal outcomes.


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