THURSDAY, July 28 (HealthDay News) -- Over the past two decades, the number of American adults with the painful joint disease gout has soared to 8.3 million, a new study finds.
The study's authors blame the rise in gout -- an inflammatory form of arthritis triggered by a buildup of uric acid in the joints -- on rising rates of obesity and high blood pressure. They note that better prevention of these risk factors might help reduce the number of people developing the painful condition.
Gout now affects 4 percent of adults in the United States, according to the study. Hyperuricemia -- a "pre-gout" condition associated with high levels of uric acid in the blood -- affects 43.3 million U.S. adults, or 21 percent of the population, the researchers said.
Researchers analyzed U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data on nearly 6,000 adults from 2007 and 2008, and compared it to data from 1988 through 1994.
The study, published online July 28 in Arthritis & Rheumatism, found the diseases have become more prevalent over the past two decades. Cases of gout rose 1 percent, while incidents of hyperuricemia increased by 3 percent.
Previous research has suggested that gout is linked to "metabolic syndrome," a group of health conditions involving obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and high cholesterol that can also lead to diabetes and heart disease.
About 6 percent of men had gout, compared to 2 percent of women.
"We found that the prevalences of gout and hyperuricemia continue to be substantial in the U.S. adult population. Improvements in managing modifiable risk factors, such as obesity and hypertension, could help prevent further escalation of gout and hyperuricemia among Americans," the study's senior investigator, Dr. Hyon Choi, professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, said in a journal news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on gout.