TUESDAY, Oct. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Educating gout patients on diet, lifestyle choices and treatment objectives is among the recommendations in new guidelines to help patients and doctors fight the painful disease.
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Gout, which affects nearly 4 percent of American adults, is one of the most common forms of inflammatory arthritis. Acute gout attacks can be debilitating and reduce patients' quality of life.
Diagnosed cases of gout in the United States have risen over the past 20 years and now affect 8.3 million people.
The American College of Rheumatology funded a collaborative effort among U.S. researchers to develop the new guidelines that educate patients in effective methods to prevent gout attacks and provide doctors with recommended treatments for long-term management of the disease.
Gout is caused by elevated levels of uric acid, which lead to the formation of crystals that are deposited in joints, resulting in excruciating pain and swelling.
Evidence suggests that increasing rates of gout may be due to factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and extensive use of two types of diuretics -- thiazide and loop -- to treat cardiovascular disease.
The guidelines were published Sept. 28 in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
"The [Arthritis Care & Research] gout guidelines are designed to emphasize safety and quality of therapy, and to reflect best practice based upon medical evidence available at this time," lead investigator Dr. John Fitzgerald, acting chief of the rheumatology division at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a journal news release.
"Our goal is that these guidelines, along with educating gout patients in effective treatment, will improve adherence, quality of care and management of this painful and potentially chronically debilitating condition," he said.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: Arthritis Care & Research, news release, Sept. 28, 2012