Painful big toes: Just the beginning in covering gout
by Eileen Beal, M.A.
Gout, as recently updated guidelines explain, is “due to an excess body burden of uric acid.”
In most cases, the burden – a medical condition called hyperuricemia – is caused by over production of and/or poor metabolization of compounds called purines (see below). As the excess uric acid builds up in the bloodstream, it can form urate crystals that lodge in leg and arm joints (and the tendons, muscles and tissues surrounding them) causing gout, an inflammatory, excruciatingly painful, and sometimes disfiguring and disabling form of arthritis.
Risk factors for gout
Gout’s major risk factors include:
co-morbidities, such as hypertension, obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and chronic kidney disease, that help promote hyperuricemia
But there are other risk factors, too, including lead poisoning and medications used to treat many of the above-cited conditions.
As with other diet-related conditions, prevalence of gout has shot up in the US, and today over 8 million Americans are somewhere along the first-attact-to-chronic-gout continuum. It tends to manifest between the ages of 40 and 60 and affects far more men than women (who don’t tend to get it till after menopause) and those who have undergone organ transplants.
The gout-aging nexus
And, since it manifests with age and increased co-morbidities (see above) and Americans are aging with more co-morbidities and (as noted above) the American College of Rheumatology recently updated its gout guidelines (links to both parts below), you are going to be covering it.
The following are story ideas to get your journalistic juices flowing:
The challenges – and rewards – of gout self-management. This recent CDC summary can help you put them in perspective.
Strategies for keeping gout – which has definite genetic and lifestyle links – at bay. This info will get you thinking.
A fun (and educational) Q-A on gout from NIAMS.
The future of gout research. A perusal of these journals will get you headed in the right direction.
The gout-kidney (and heart) connection and importance of managing all three conditions simultaneously.
The gout, diet, and the insulin resistance nexus.
Who ya gonna call
If you live in a city with an academic medical center (i.e. a hospital and/or hospital system affiliated with a medical school) contact the press folks handling rheumatology. For coverage with a national footprint, contact the press office at hospitals/centers with strong rheumatology. According to the most recent US News and World Report’s Top Hospitals list, the best of the best are: Johns Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, and Mayo Clinic.
Or contact the following:
American College of Rheumatology
Bonney Senkbeil, Media Relations
Herbert Baraf, M.D., rheumatologist
Arthritis & Rheumatism Association
Joan M. Bathon, M.D., director of the Division of Rheumatology at New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Office: 212- 305-4308
Scott Berg, D.O., F.A.C.R., Department of Rheumatologic and Immunologic Disease, Cleveland Clinic
Laura Ambro, Media Relations
Kenneth G. Saag, M.D., M.Sc., director, Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics of Musculoskelatal Disorders, Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, University of Alabama/Birmingham
Raymond Pertusi, D.O., rheumatologist, UMass Memorial Medical Center
H. Ralph Schumacher, M.D., professor of medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical School and Director of the VA Medical Center’s Arthritis Clinic
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Patricia Reynolds, Media Relations
2012 American College of Rheumatology Guidelines for Management of Gout Part I: Systematic Non-pharmacologic and Pharmacologic Therapeutic Approaches to Hyperuricemia
2012 American College of Rheumatology Guidelines for Management of Gout Part II: Therapy and Anti-inflammatory Prophylaxis of Acute Gouty Arthritis”
The Arthritis Foundation/Gout
MayoClinic.com Gout Information
UpToDate Patient Information: Gout