The prevalence of meat consumption means gout is a disease of commoners today, and while the disease is on the rise, treatment is vastly underused.
A recent estimate of the prevalence of gout in the U.S. set the number at about 8.3 million, or 3.9% of the population.
“There are data suggesting that the incidence of gout in this country has doubled in the last 20 years and probably tripled in the past 40 years, making it by far the most common inflammatory arthritis,” said N. Lawrence Edwards, MD, of the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Reasons for this increase include the obesity epidemic, widespread use of medications such as diuretics that elevate urate levels, and greater longevity.
“Historically, gout has been associated with overindulgence, in people who had access to foods of plenty, but now, in fact, gout is a condition of people with chronic illness such as kidney disease and heart disease, and regrettably it’s often relegated to a lesser status given all the other challenges of management,” explained Kenneth S. Saag, MD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.