Gout: Pain In Your Big Toe And Your Heart?

Do you have gout? If you do, you may be at a higher risk for heart problems. There have been several studies showing the correlation between gout and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but what does this actually mean? Here is a closer look at gout, cardiovascular disease, and their relationship to each other.

First of all, what is gout?

Gout is a form of arthritis that often happens in the lower legs, feet, and toes. It is characterized by a painful buildup of uric acid in the bloodstream that collects around the joints. Certain diseases, such as diabetes, as well as drinking alcohol or taking certain medications may increase your chances of developing gout as you get older. While gout attacks often only last a few days, they can resurface at any time, especially if they are left untreated. Your doctor can work with you to develop a plan for managing your gout, so that the attacks happen less frequently.

What about cardiovascular disease? 

Cardiovascular or heart disease is simply when the heart does not work the way it should. This is often caused by blood clots that have a hard time getting through your blood vessels or plaque that builds up on the walls of your arteries, causing the heart to have to work harder to pump the blood through the body. Heart attacks, strokes, and arrhythmia are all forms of cardiovascular disease. 

But what does arthritis of the big toe have to do with heart disease? 

In the last several years, researchers have noticed that people with gout are more likely than those without it to develop different types of heart disease. Interestingly, this is especially true if you are male. However, as of yet, no one has actually been able to pinpoint gout as a cause of heart disease. So far, it is only considered to be associated with an increased risk of heart problems, not necessarily the cause.

So, why should you care? 

If you have gout, it may be an indication that you are at risk for certain types of heart disease. It is important to work with your doctor to not only manage the painful arthritis, but also to monitor for any potential heart conditions. Also, as more research is being done on the association between gout and heart disease, it is also important to keep an open mind. Managing your gout better may be the key to lowering your risk of heart disease. You can become part of the solution by participating in a local gout cardiovascular disease study.