When you think of gout, you may not think of heart disease, however studies have shown that there is a strong tie between the buildup of uric acid and the risk of gout and cardiovascular disease.1-4 Uric acid is naturally made when our bodies break down certain foods and beverages high in purines such as beer, shellfish, and red meat. Uric acid buildup has been shown to be associated with not only gout but also cardiovascular disease (CVD).1,2 Additionally, patients with gout are at an increased risk of CVD independent of uric acid levels; possibly as a result of having higher levels of inflammations and/or oxidative stress.3,4 If you suffer from gout, following Life’s Essential 8 guidelines could help reduce your risk of CVD.
The American Heart Association (AHA) updated its Life’s Simple 7 checklist to Life’s Essential 8 in 2022. The Essential 8 outlines key measures for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health, which also helps lower the risk for other health problems.5
The AHA’s recommendations include:
- Eat a Balanced Diet: Enjoy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, plant-based proteins (like soy), lean animal proteins, fish, and seafood. Limit sweetened drinks, sodium, red and processed meats, added sugars, tropical oils, and alcohol. Avoid trans fat and partially hydrogenated oils.
- Engage in Physical Activity: Adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, while children and teens should get at least 60 minutes every day. Activities can include walking, biking, swimming, playing, or dancing. Move more, and sit less.
- Avoid Nicotine Exposure: Inhaled nicotine products, including cigarettes, e-cigs, and vaping, are the leading cause of death in the U.S. Being smoke-free for only 1 year decreases your risk of heart disease by half.5 Avoid secondhand smoke and vapor.
- Focus on Sleep Duration: Adults should aim for 7-9 hours while children need even more. Set an alarm for bedtime, and move your phone and electronic devices away from your bed.
- Work Towards and Maintain Ideal Weight: Control your portion sizes, and eat a well-balanced diet.
- Manage Cholesterol: Aim for higher HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol. Moving more and eating more plants (and plant protein) can help you achieve this.
- Control Blood Sugar: Controlling your blood sugar is important for your heart as well as other body systems. Eating a balanced diet and moving more can help achieve your goal of fasting blood glucose levels below 100mg/dl.
- Monitor Blood Pressure: Normal blood pressure is lower than 120/80. Elevated blood pressure occurs when one or both numbers are elevated.
- Gout Education Society. Gout and Heart Disease. Gouteducation.org. Updated 2021. Accessed August 5, 2022. https://gouteducation.org/health-conditions/gout-and-heart-disease/.
- Rahimi-Sakak F, Maroofi M, Rahmani J, et al. Serum uric acid and risk of cardiovascular mortality: a systematic review and dose response meta-analysis of cohort studies of over a million participants. BMC Cardiovascular Disorders. 2019;19(218). Doi:10.1186/s12872-019-1215-z.
- Singh JA, Ramachandaran R, Yu S, et al. Is gout a risk equivalent to diabetes for stroke and myocardial infarction? A retrospective claims database study. Arthritis Res Ther. 2017;19(1):228. Doi:10.1186/s13075-017-1427-5.
- Hansildaar R, Vedder D, Baniaamam M, Tausche AK, Gerritsen M, Nurmohamed MT. Cardiovascular risk in inflammatory arthritis: rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Lancet Rheumatol. 2021;3(1):e58-e70. doi:10.1016/S2665-9913(20)30221-6
- American Heart Association. Life’s Essential 8.Heart.org. Published 2022. Accessed August 5, 2022. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/lifes-essential-8.