Sleep apnea may increase the risk of developing gout, a new study shows.
Among 9,865 patients with newly-diagnosed sleep apnea and 43,598 comparators of similar weight, investigators identified 270 new cases of gout over one year of follow-up, resulting in incidence rates of 8.4/1000 and 4.8/1000 person-years, respectively. The increased risk of gout was 60% higher among patients with sleep apnea.
“Since sleep apnea-associated hypoxia is treatable, our findings may have both important clinical and public health implications in the prevention and management of gout,” says Dr Yuqing Zhang, lead author of the Arthritis & Rheumatology study.
This is an important issue — not only because overcoming sleep apnea may cure gout, but also because gout is an indicator of sleep apnea. (See Sleep. 2005 Feb;28(2):275). But the modern definition of gout is the formation of monosodium urate crystals in body tissues and fluids. Sometimes gout manifests as arthritic pain and inflammation, when those crystals form in synovial fluid. Detection of those crystals may provide the hitherto elusive biomarker for sleep apnea. Effective detection of those crystals has been shown through the use of ultrasound and also dual energy computed tomography, even in individuals who have not manifested arthritic gout.