Gout is a very common form of arthritis. It is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is produced as a byproduct of the body breaking down chemicals called purines which are found in food. It can crystallize and form painful deposits in the joints, usually the big toe.
Occasionally, gout is associated with other conditions such as high blood pressure, also called hypertension.
There are two reasons for this:
- Certain medications for high blood pressure are diuretics. Diuretics increase the body's water and sodium excretion. This allows the blood vessel walls to relax, alleviating high blood pressure. However, this can also cause an increase in the blood uric acid concentration.
- High blood pressure, if left untreated, is a risk factor for developing gout.
Usually medications for high blood pressure will not cause gout, but they can exacerbate an existing gout condition.
Other risk factors for gout:
- Being overweight
- Eating a rich diet (common in developed countries like the USA, Canada, Europe, etc.)
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Having a family history of gout
- Taking other drugs, like Aspirin and other salicylates, cyclosporine, and levodpa
If you have multiple risk factors for gout, you should take measures to reduce your chances of developing gout. It is extremely painful, and usually incurable. It is a much better idea to prevent gout than try to treat it.
Tips for avoiding gout and alleviating high blood pressure:
- Lose weight: Many studies have shown that being overweight is very detrimental to your health. Excess weight exacerbates gout and high blood pressure. Talk to your health practitioner about designing a safe and effective weight loss program.
- Stop drinking alcohol: Alcohol, especially beer and wine, is high in purines, acts as a diuretic, and interferes with the body's ability to excrete uric acid.
- Avoid foods high in purines: Red meats, organ meats, legumes, and shellfish are high in purines.
- Talk to your health practitioner about switching your medications for high blood pressure if they might cause gout.
- Stay hydrated: Drink at least 64 ounces of water each day. Dehydration allows a higher blood uric acid concentration.
- Follow a low-sodium diet. High levels of sodium contribute to high blood pressure.
- Quit smoking. Smoking also contributes to high blood pressure.
- Eat a healthy diet: Avoid purine rich foods, and make sure to get plenty of fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods high in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
- Take a multivitamin. Research shows that certain nutrients like potassium can help reduce blood pressure, and a restricted diet can leave out certain nutrients.
- Be sure to talk to your health practitioner to design a program for managing your hypertension and preventing gout. Do not stop taking any prescription medications without first consulting your health practitioner.