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Sleep Apnea May Increase Risk of Gout

Category: Health & Fitness,Lifestyle

Those with obstructive sleep apnea were more likely to develop gout.

Nicholas Bakalar
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New research has found that obstructive sleep apnea — a disorder in which breathing stops and starts during sleep — is associated with an increased risk for gout, a common cause of painful arthritis.

Scientists studied 15,879 patients with apnea and 63,296 matched controls without, following them for an average of almost six years. Over that time, 4.9 percent of people with apnea developed gout, compared with 2.6 percent of those without the disorder.

Both disorders are associated with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and other conditions, but after controlling for these and other factors the independent association of apnea with gout was still evident. The study is in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

The mechanism is unclear, but reduced oxygen supply during sleep encourages the production of uric acid, and the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints is what causes the inflammation and pain of gout.

Apnea can be treated with continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, in which the patient wears a mask at night to allow easier breathing. There are drugs and diet restrictions used to treat gout.

The lead author, Milica Blagojevic-Bucknall, a lecturer at Keele University in England, said that this observational study does not prove cause and effect. Still, she added, “It’s possible that people who use CPAP could reduce the risk or severity of gout.”


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