20 Important Things Doctors Wish You Knew About Arthritis

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17. Watch out for gout

The number of people diagnosed with gout actually doubled between 1960 and 1990, and rates have risen about 25 percent since. The use of specific medications for high blood pressure—especially loop and thiazide diuretics—are among the top reasons for the increase. “Gout also has a genetic component,” notes Dr. Marchetta.

And interestingly the issue isn’t that patients produce too much uric acid (the compound that crystallizes in the joints and causes pain)—it’s that their kidneys under excrete it, says Dr. Marchetta.

Dietary habits can maximize the amount of uric acid in the blood to a really high level where the kidneys just can’t get rid of it. Foods and beverages rich in compounds called purines have a major contribution to the formation of uric acid crystals, as does being overweight and sedentary. Alcohol, especially beer, is also purine-rich. “Beer can double the risk of a gout attack,” says Dr. Marchetta.

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