Researchers say gout is known to increase the risk of heart attack in men, but until now little was known about the heart risk in women.
Gout is a common and painful form of arthritis that affects up to 6% of elderly women and 9% of elderly men. It is caused by inflammation in the joints that occurs as a result of excess uric acid-related crystal deposits.
In the study, published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, researchers compared the rates of heart attacks among 9,642 Canadian men and women over 65 with gout and 48,210 healthy adults of the same age.
Over about seven years of follow-up, 3,268 heart attacks, including 996 heart attacks among women, were reported. The results showed that compared to women without gout, women with the disease were 39% more likely to have a heart attack and 41% more likely to have a nonfatal heart attack.
This increased risk of heart attack among women with gout held true after researchers adjusted for other underlying health problems associated with heart risk (such as high blood pressure and diabetes) and their use of prescription drugs.
The heart attack risks among women were significantly higher than those found among men with gout, who were 11% more likely to have any heart attack or nonfatal heart attack.
Researcher Mary A. De Vera, of the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada in Vancouver, and colleagues say the excess uric acid associated with gout may increase inflammation and platelet stickiness, which are both implicated in heart disease.