'Disease of kings' on the rise as more people get gout because of increase in obesity
Hospital admissions have almost doubled in a decade
22:33 GMT, 30 September 2012
Soaring numbers of patients are being admitted to hospital with gout triggered by obesity and heavy drinking.
The painful illness is known as the disease of kings as it afflicted a number of monarchs including Henry VIII.
Hospital admissions have almost doubled in a decade to more than 4,400 a year.
On the rise: The swollen foot of a patient with gout, also known as uric acid arthropathy
Experts blame eating and drinking to excess for the illness caused by a
build-up in the blood of uric acid, a waste product formed by the
breakdown of food, beer and wine.
If someone produces too much uric acid tiny crystals will start to form
in the joints and cause pain and inflammation.
Researchers who looked at
hospital admissions for gout in England and New Zealand say they have
increased by 80 per cent in a decade in both countries.
In England in 1999-2000 there were 2,369 admissions but this had risen to 4,421 by 2008-09.
Every year for the past decade the number of patients brought to
hospital for gout has risen by 7.2 per cent according to the study led
by Dr Philip Robinson of the University of Queensland, Australia, and
published in the journal Rheumatology.
Gout – a type of arthritis – is incredibly painful thanks to needle-shaped crystals, which form in and around joints – particularly the big toe – causing inflammation.
A finger showing inflammation and deformity caused by gout. Gout is a metabolic disease characterised by arthritic joint pain and swelling, which result from high levels of uric acid in the blood and urate crystal deposits in the joints
Portrait of Henry VIII, aged 49 in 1540. The king famously suffered from gout
Leonardo da Vinci, the Italian painter, sculptor, architect and engineer also suffered from gout
Historically, the disease was linked to wealthy people who could afford to binge on food and wine.
there are many risk factors for the disease today – including alcohol,
diet, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and it is even
sometimes triggered by physical trauma or surgery.
it is not just humans who suffer from gout – the largest T-Rex specimen
– Sue – is believed to have suffered from the debilitating disease.
can raise the level of uric acid in the blood by increasing its
production in the liver, and by reducing how much is passed out in
urine, with beer a particular issue.
Dr Philip Robinson, of the University of Queensland, who conducted the large study, says more and more people are being admitted to hospital for gout – with too many calories and not enough exercise common factors of the disease.
The study – published in journal Rheumatology – also showed gout sufferers often have other health problems – such as high blood pressure (39 per cent), diabetes (20 per cent) and heart disease (39 per cent).
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: 'This rise comes as no surprise – and its not just the elderly who are suffering.
'People have just about got the message that obesity may lead to Type 2 Diabetes and hypertension but they appear to be oblivious to the plethora of other conditions triggered by being unhealthily fat.
'Because of the age range, health professionals should take over opportunity warn their patients just how painful it is.
'Gout can be controlled but life has to be better without it in the first place.'