Gout, the inflammatory arthritis triggered by the crystallization of uric acid in the joints, is on the rise in the United States, most likely due to the obesity epidemic in this country, coupled with a greater incidence of high blood pressure. Gout now affects about 4% of the population, increasing in proportion to age. And it appears associated with higher incidences of heart attack and diabetes.

No longer is the gout patient that chubby and elderly nobleman, with foot elevated on pillow, as if begging for sympathy from the servants surrounding him, displaying that swollen and painful-looking red big toe. He has been replaced by the chubby proletariat, holding a remote control instead of a scepter.

Researchers now estimate that the prevalence of gout in this country has more than doubled over the past 40 to 50 years, according to a recent article in "Arthritis and Rheumatism". Further, they encourage that risk factors be targeted and modified in order to prevent gout. Modifiable risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, and alcohol intake. We should all, after consulting with our respective physicians, make the effort to exercise, and limit the eating of red meat and organ meats, in addition to limiting alcohol and sugary beverage intake.

Gout is an exquisitely painful condition, and often can have a sudden onset, many a time awakening the victim in the middle of the night. However, there are medications that can be very effective in preventing gout attacks, or at least shortening the duration and limiting the severity of a gouty attack.

These medications include anti-inflammatories, and uric acid lowering agents such as Allopurinol and Uloric. The latest drug to be approved for use in gout is Krystexxa: Given by injection a couple of times a month, it breaks down uric aid into a harmless byproduct.

Again, the key is prevention through the practice of a healthy lifestyle, nobleman or no.

Your throne might be that recliner your kids gave you last Christmas, your realm the distance between the ottoman and that big screen television hanging up on the wall, but there is so much you can do to fend off the next attack of gouty arthritis. So let it be written; so let it be done.

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