Gout link to diabetes prompts call for aggressive GP management

Patients with gout face a heightened risk of developing diabetes, and GPs should 'aggressively' manage risk factors for the disease in these patients, US researchers have said.

Inflamed toe joint in patient with gout (Photo: SPL)
Inflamed toe joint in patient with gout (Photo: SPL)

The study from Harvard Medical School, Boston, found the risk of diabetes was 71% higher in women with gout than their peers without the condition. The risk in men was 22% greater.

Researchers said the effect was independent of factors including BMI and lifestyle. They urged GPs to take steps to identify and manage risk factors for diabetes in patients with gout, particularly women.

The study used anonymised data about 35,339 new cases of gout between 1995 and 2010 from the UK’s Health Improvement Network.

Gout patients assessed

Researchers matched each of these patients to five people without gout, a total of 137,056. The control group included people of the same gender, age and BMI as the patients with gout, and the researchers also considered information on smoking status, alcohol use, GP visits and treatments for other conditions.

They found that patients with gout drank more alcohol, went to their GP more often and had more health problems than those without the condition.

The study found new diabetes diagnoses were more common among patients with gout, at 9.6 per 1,000 person-years, than among controls, at 6.7 per 1,000.

More women with gout developed diabetes, even though risk factors were more common in men.

Inflammation could be key

Underlying inflammation in patients with gout may promote the development of diabetes, the researchers said.

They concluded that the findings suggest ‘gout may be independently associated with an increased risk of diabetes and the magnitude of association is significantly larger in women than in men’.

The study, the first to link the two conditions in the general UK population, was observational, so the link may not necessarily be causal, the authors said.

They added: ‘These findings support proper recognition and management of risk factors of diabetes in patients with gout, particularly among women.’

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