Gout & Aspirin

Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Did you know that aspirin can affect gout?

Many patients will read that aspirin increases the level of uric acid in the blood and that the blood level of uric acid is important in gout. What is the relationship between the two factors? Additionally, many patients are prescribed a low dose of aspirin (75-81 mg daily) to prevent heart attacks or strokes. What should patients be told about aspirin and gout? Will it cause gout in them?

These questions bring up a number of important issues about gout.

First, gout is a medical condition that is characterized by abnormally elevated levels of uric acid in the blood, recurring attacks of joint inflammation (arthritis), deposits of hard lumps of uric acid in and around the joints, and decreased kidney function and kidney stones. While gout is often associated with an abnormally elevated blood uric acid level, it need not be. This means that the medical condition of gout can exist in an individual regardless of an elevated uric acid level in that person. This even holds true for an acute attack of gouty arthritis! Moreover, many patients with elevated blood levels of uric acid (hyperuricemia) never develop gout.

It is, therefore, important to understand that it may not necessarily be the level of uric acid that triggers an acute attack of gout. Frequently, acute attacks are precipitated by a rapid change in the level of uric acid, either up or down. Additionally, the tendency toward developing gout seems to be significantly influenced by the metabolism a person inherits.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014