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Survey reveals impact of gout attacks

Published on 15 June 2010
A depressed man

A new survey has shed light on the realities of life for people with gout – a particularly painful form of arthritis that affects about 1.5 per cent of the UK population.

The US Men's Health Network commissioned Braun Research to carry out a survey of 1,000 gout patients in order to find out their levels of pain and the emotional toll of the disease.

Researchers found that 69 per cent of people with gout described the pain during an attack as 'miserable', while 34 per cent likened the level of discomfort to that of a severe burn.

Half of patients described their gout as 'very severe or severe' and a similar proportion reported 'unbearable' pain during a flare.

More than a quarter said they had to stay in bed during an attack and 43 per cent had been forced to cancel social engagements.

Thirty-seven per cent of participants said they would give up winning the lottery in exchange for never experiencing another gout flare, while more than one-fifth would give up a year's worth of annual leave.

The survey also found that one-third of respondents had experienced an average of two or more attacks in the last 12 months.

However, 91 per cent described their gout as 'under control'.

Dr Zorba Paster, clinical professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, commented: "This study reveals a startling disconnect between the degree of pain and discomfort patients experience and the reported success of their care or management plan.

"Patients need to know that they don't have to 'just live with' a certain number of flares. Gout is the result of hyperuricemia, or high uric acid levels in the body, and it needs ongoing management with a combination of lifestyle modifications and medication."

The survey also shed light on the emotional impact of the disease, revealing that 40 per cent of patients feel depressed during an attack and 67 per cent believe others do not take their condition seriously.

Arthritis Research UK is currently funding a new study which aims to improve the treatment and management of gout by ensuring that patients receive – and stay on – the right amounts of medication aimed at reducing attacks, and encouraging patients to lead more healthy lifestyles.

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