Gout, a form of arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints, has long been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, the extent of this risk and the effectiveness of current screening measures have remained unclear.
A recent prospective cohort study published in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology assessed the 10-year CVD risk among gout patients receiving secondary care as well as examined the impact of CVD risk screening on their 10-year CVD risk after a 1-year period.
Researchers collected comprehensive data on gout and CVD history, traditional risk factors, medication usage, and lifestyle habits from the participants at baseline and during a follow-up visit after 1 year. The 10-year CVD risk was calculated using the NL-SCORE, a widely accepted tool for estimating cardiovascular risk in the Netherlands. Statistical tests were performed to compare baseline and 1-year visit data.
The findings of the study revealed a high prevalence of traditional CVD risk factors among the secondary care gout patients. Even without a previous history of CVD, 19% of the participants were categorized as high-risk according to the NL-SCORE. Moreover, the prevalence of CVD increased from 16% to 21% during the 1-year follow-up period. These results underline the vulnerability of gout patients to cardiovascular complications and emphasize the urgent need for proactive management of their CVD risk.
While there was a decrease in total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels after 1 year, no significant changes were observed in mean body mass index, waist-hip ratio, blood pressure, or NL-SCORE. This suggests that the recommendations provided to patients and general practitioners alone were insufficient to drive overall improvements in traditional CVD risk factors or the estimated 10-year CVD risk.
“Our results indicate that a more prominent role of the rheumatologist is necessary to optimize the process of initiation and management of CVD risk in gout patients,” the authors concluded.