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Fam Pract. 2003 Aug;20(4):413-6.

Gout, just a nasty event or a cardiovascular signal? A study from primary care.

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  • 1University Medical Centre, Department of General Practice and Family Medicine 229, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



Our aim was to examine the relationship between gout on the one hand and cardiovascular diseases and cardiovascular risk indicators on the other.


A case-control study was carried out in an aggregate primary care population of approximately 12 000 patients from four Dutch general practices, with follow-up of the cases free of cardiovascular diseases at the time of the first registered episode of gout. The subjects comprised 261 patients with a first episode of gout, 170 of whom were without prevalent cardiovascular diseases, and two control patients for each case matched for age, sex and practice. In the case-control study, the main outcome measures were the prevalence of cardiovascular morbidity (angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, heart failure, cerebrovascular accident, transient ischaemic attack, peripheral vascular disease), hypertension, diabetes mellitus, obesity and hypercholesterolaemia; in the follow-up study, the main outcome measure was the incidence of cardiovascular morbidity.


Thirty-five percent of 261 gout patients and 26% of 522 controls had one or more prevalent cardiovascular diseases. Compared with controls, patients had a higher prevalence of hypertension (43% versus 18%), hypercholesterolaemia (14% versus 6%) and obesity (56% versus 30%). A total of 170 gout patients without prevalent cardiovascular diseases (compared with 340 controls) had a higher prevalence of hypertension (39% versus 14%), hypercholesterolaemia (8% versus 4%), diabetes mellitus (5% versus 1%) and obesity (52% versus 27%). The first occurrence of a cardiovascular disease (real end-point) was seen in 26% of the patients free of cardiovascular morbidity and in 21% of the controls. This difference was not significant. In a Cox proportional hazard model, controlling for the cardiovascular risk indicators, gout did not prove to be an independent determinant for the development of cardiovascular disease.


Gout was found to be associated with cardiovascular diseases and with cardiovascular risk indicators, without evidence of it being an independent risk indicator itself. A gout attack should be an incentive to assess the cardiovascular risk profile, when a patient seeks medical help.

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