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Obstructive sleep apnea linked with higher risk of gout

The risk continues beyond the first years that obstructive sleep apnea is diagnosed

Ingrid Torjesen

Friday, 31 August 2018

People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have a higher risk of developing gout, even beyond the first years after being diagnosed with the sleep disorder, the results of a study* published in Arthritis & Rheumatology show.

It has previously been shown that people with OSA have a higher risk of developing gout in the first year after diagnosis, so researchers decided to investigate whether they may also be more likely to develop gout over a longer term.

A research team led by Edward Roddy and Milica Blagojevic-Bucknall, from Keele University in the UK, examined information on 15,879 patients with OSA and 63,296 without, with a median follow-up of 5.8 years.

During follow-up, 4.9% of OSA and 2.6% of non-OSA patients developed gout. Incidence rates per 1000 person-years were 7.83 and 4.03 among those with and without OSA, respectively, representing a 42% increased risk among OSA patients.

An elevated risk of developing gout was observed throughout follow-up for OSA patients, but it was highest one to two years after diagnosis of OSA. The risk of gout was greater in those with normal weight.

Roddy said: "People with sleep apnoea are at an increased risk of gout in both the short and long-term. Since this risk was highest in people with normal body mass index, doctors and other health professionals should consider the possibility of gout in patents with sleep apnoea regardless of body mass index."

It's thought that intermittent oxygen deficiency due to OSA leads to over- production of uric acid, which causes gout.

Blagojevic-Bucknall said "Sleep apnea is commonly treated with continuous positive airways pressure--or CPAP-therapy. Since CPAP treatment corrects low oxygen levels it might also be expected to reduce uric acid levels, which could possibly reduce the risk of developing gout or treat existing gout; however, further research is needed to investigate the effect of treatment with CPAP in people with gout."


*Blagojevic‐Bucknal M, Mallen C, Muller S, et al. The risk of gout among patients with sleep apnea: a matched cohort study. Arthritis & Rheumatology; Published Online: August 30, 2018 (DOI: 10.1002/art.40662).

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