Gout can increase your risk of atrial fibrillation

It’s hard to elicit any sympathy when you have something called the “disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease.” Gout earned that nickname because it was linked to powerful rulers like Henry VIII and Charlemagne, who liked their fair share of rich food and wine.

But if you’ve ever actually suffered from a bout of gout yourself, you know that the blistering pain can feel like a medieval sword stabbing through your toes. The agony can make it impossible to sleep and leave you limping for days.

Now, a new large study shows that gout may be far more than a royal pain in the big toe, but it can be deadly, too.

That’s according to an analysis of records from nearly 100,000 patients. It concluded that people who continually struggle with gout flare-ups are also in danger of something much worse: atrial fibrillation (Afib) — when you have a rapid and irregular heartbeat, raising your risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications.

Published in the journal Rheumatology, the study compared 45,368 gout patients with 45,378 healthy controls and found that those suffering from gout were significantly more likely to develop “AFib” over the next 10 years.

The research showed that gout was more than a painful nuisance – it’s a potentially lethal attack on your heart, and you need to take it seriously.

Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the bloodstream. If you produce too much uric acid, it forms deposits in the form of needle-shaped crystals that cause inflammation and pain in the joints. Often, it can leave you in agony and even bed-ridden for days or weeks.

Researchers believe that the build-up of uric acid levels changes the overall structure of the heart, making you more vulnerable to AFib.

Fortunately, you can lower your levels of uric acid, stop gout flare-ups and protect your heart from atrial fibrillation by following these three steps:

• Change your diet: Limit your intake of foods rich in uric acid, like liver, kidneys, and certain types of seafood, like sardines and anchovies.

• Drink less alcohol: Alcohol can actually prevent your kidneys from releasing uric acid into your urine, which means it stays in your body, and builds up in your joints.

• Try a herbal remedy: Devil’s claw has been used for centuries to stop inflammation and pain. Best of all, it helps your body get rid of uric acid, reducing your risk of painful gout and AFib issues.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
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“Got gout? Watch out for AFib,” MedPage Today, Jan. 4, 2015

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