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Sptember 29 is World Heart Day. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cardiovascular diseases are the major cause of mortality globally. They are caused by disorders of the heart and blood vessels. Coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, hypertension, peripheral artery disease, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease and heart failure are the disorders of the heart and blood vessels. According to this organistion, an estimated 17 million people die of heart attacks and strokes every year.
WHO says that this is mainly due to a sedentary lifestyle, bad dietary habits and substance abuse, especially tobacco and alcohol. A high level of uric acid or hyperuricemia can also cause heart related disorders. In view of the upcoming World Heart Day on September 29th, we take this opportunity to look at the association between high levels of uric acid and heart disorders. A study in The Journal of the American Heart Association says that If you suffer from gout, an inflammatory arthritis condition, you may be at risk of severe heart complications. Gout, as we all know, is the result of high uric acid levels or hyperuricemia.
Researchers from Duke University looked at the data of more than 17,000 patients for the study. They also reviewed the data of 1,406 participants who had gout at the start of the study and were being treated for cardiovascular risk factors. Gout is a condition that leads to the build-up of uric acid, which forms needle-like crystals in a joint. This causes sudden and severe pain, tenderness, redness, warmth and swelling, often in the big toe.
Researchers followed patients for an average of 6.4 years. They saw that participants who had gout at the beginning of the study or who developed it during follow-up had a higher risk of succumbing to cardiovascular disease or having a heart attack. Their risk went up by almost 15 per cent, they said and added that patients who had gout at any point during the study had a twofold increased risk of heart failure death compared to people who never developed gout.
Many patients don't even realise that high uric acid levels have an association with heart diseases, according to researchers. Though they are not very clear about the link between the two conditions, they suspect that it may be due to increased oxidative stress and inflammation.
Another study at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center also comes to the same conclusion. This study, published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, says that even in men with no previous history of coronary artery disease, gout is a significant independent risk factor of heart attack.
Another research at Stanford University School of Medicine showed that high levels of uric acid significantly increase risk of developing heart failure later in life. Published online in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure, this study says that high levels of uric acid, which is behind the inflammatory disease gout, may be a marker for adverse prognosis for people already diagnosed with heart failure.
Heart failure weakens the ability of the heart to pump blood through the body. It reduces longevity, affects quality of life and can lead to death eventually. A heart transplant is the only way out.
Researchers, however, were not able to pinpoint why uric acid is a predictor of heart failure. They suspect it may be due to the fact that uric acid contributes to endothelial dysfunction by impairing nitric oxide production. This may damage the heart. They also say that high uric acid levels cause inflammation, and this may also lead to heart failure.
Uric acid is a chemical made naturally by the body. It is expelled from the body with urine. But if there is any disorder, your body may produce too much of it or your kidneys may not be able to flush them out properly. It is produced when your body breaks down a naturally occurring substance in your body called purine. Sometimes, if you consume foods with a high purine-content, your body will break down the purine and convert it to uric acid. Sometimes, this can cause very high levels of uric acid in the body. This condition is called hyperuricemia. Therefore, if you eat foods with a high purine content, you may be at risk of high uric acid in your body.
Here, we tell you how to avoid this condition and keep diseases like gout and heart diseases away.
Avoid organ meats, red meat, seafood like sardines, trout and herrings and beans, especially dried ones. Also stay away from all alcoholic beverages. This will help you keep your uric acid levels normal. You don't have to give them up completely. Just have these foods in moderation. It will make a big difference.
Your body flushes out uric acid through urine. So, the more water you drink, the more you will pass urine. This will help you to maintain balance in the body. You may have 2 to 3 litres of water every day. But if you sweat a lot then you may drink according to your need, which may be higher than the amount stated here. There is no hard and fast rule. But just remember that excessive amount of water can also lead to water toxicity. So, listen to your body and make a World Heart Day resolution to stay hydrated always.
It is well known that stress if often behind a whole range of diseases from mental health problems to cardiovascular diseases. But sometimes, it may also cause a spike in uric acid levels in the body. This is due to stress-induced inflammation in the body.
Inflammation, at times, may also be due to obesity. Obesity also increases your risk of diabetes. And insulin injections taken for this disease may increase uric acid levels. Hence, you must try to maintain an ideal body weight. From this World Heart Day onwards, eat healthy and exercise regularly. Hit the gym, go for a walk and be physically active. All this together will help you maintain your uric acid levels.
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