The UK Gout Society has joined forces with doctors, parliamentarians, doctors and other charities to help raise awareness of gout – the most common form of inflammatory arthritis worldwide, which now affects one in 40 people in the UK.
If left untreated gout can lead to joint and kidney damage, permanent disability and an increased risk of death. It is caused by crystals of uric acid being deposited in the tissues when there is too much uric acid in the bloodstream, which cannot be effectively removed from the kidneys. Gout is often associated with many other serious health conditions including obesity, kidney disease, diabetes, heart attack and stroke. Between 1997 and 2012 the prevalence of gout in the UK rose by 64%.
The campaign hopes to encourage people affected by gout, their friends and family, to share their experiences of gout via social media by using the hashtag #shoutaboutgout. The UK Gout Society hopes that this will help to dispel some of the myths surrounding the disorder e.g., that it is entirely self-inflicted and not a serious problem; and one that only affects older wealthy men who eat rich foods and drink too much alcohol.
“Gout can occur any time after puberty in men but seldom before the menopause in women. Sometimes there is a family history of the disorder,” says George Nuki, Emeritus Professor of Rheumatology, University of Edinburgh, and trustee of the UK Gout Society.
“While modifying diet and lifestyle may help, gout can only be effectively treated and prevented by long-term treatment with prescription medications that lower the level of uric acid in the blood. Unfortunately, we know that prescription, monitoring and adherence to these ‘potentially curative’ medications continues to remain a significant problem,” he adds.
According to recent research, less than one in five people with gout are prescribed uric acid lowering therapy within six months of diagnosis - and only a quarter are still receiving treatment a year after being diagnosed.
“It is vital that we all work together to raise awareness of gout – together with other musculoskeletal conditions - because they are seriously undertreated and greatly misunderstood,” adds Jim Shannon MP.
Established in 2002, the UK Gout Society is the only charity in the UK solely dedicated to raising awareness of gout and providing basic support and information. The charity also plans to undertake educational work among health professionals and health commissioners later in 2017.
To help support the charity and generate vital funds, become a Friend of the UK Gout Society, by visiting the ‘Support Us’ page at www.ukgoutsociety.org