Gout increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 58 per cent, according to a new study.

Analysing more than 860,000 health records, researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Glasgow and KU Leuven found that women and people under 45 with gout, a common and painful arthritis, tend to face even higher risks.

Gout, caused by a build-up of uric acid leading to tiny crystals forming around joints, is more likely to occur in men and the elderly, but can also affect women and younger individuals.

Oxford Mail: The research was carried out jointly by Oxford University, Glasgow University, and KU LeuvenThe research was carried out jointly by Oxford University, Glasgow University, and KU Leuven (Image: Newsquest)

The inflammatory condition is related to a surge in the risk of cardiovascular disease, a link established by previous studies, but this recent research offers a first look at the risks across a broad spectrum of cardiovascular diseases in a large-scale study.

Researchers examined more than 152,000 cases of patients affected by gout and compared them with more than 700,000 matched population controls.

The analysis revealed that people with gout carry a higher overall risk of cardiovascular disease than those without the condition.

An 88 per cent higher relative risk was observed among women, whereas men exhibited a 49 per cent higher relative risk.

Younger individuals - those aged under 45 - with gout face twice the risk of cardiovascular disease than their contemporaries without gout, despite the absolute risk of cardiovascular disease generally increasing with age.

The researchers' findings examined 12 cardiovascular diseases including heart failure, ischaemic heart disease, arrythmias, valve diseases and venous thromboembolism.

Lead senior author and honorary research fellow at the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health at the University of Oxford, and the University of Glasgow, Dr Nathalie Conrad, said: "The present results complement a now large body of evidence of substantial cardiovascular risks associated with gout, as well as other immune­mediated inflammatory conditions.

"To date, these conditions are less commonly considered in cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines and risk scores, nor are there specific prevention measures for these patients.

"These data suggest this might need to change, and the clinical community may need to consider cardiovascular disease screening and prevention as an integral part of the management of gout."

First author of the study, Dr Lyn D Ferguson, consultant and honorary senior clinical lecturer based at the University of Glasgow added: "This work highlights the importance of screening for and managing a range of cardiovascular diseases in people with gout.

"Gout could be considered a metabolic condition and management should include addressing the heart and body weight alongside joints."

The work was funded by the Research Foundation Flanders and the findings have been published in The Lancet Rheumatology.