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Gout rates 'soaring' in UK

Rates of gout in the UK are soaring in the UK, a study has uncovered. 

Gout, a disease which is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the blood, currently affects one in 40 people in the UK. 

The disease is a type of arthritis which particularly affects the overweight and people with high blood pressure, or diabetes. Usually it affects the big toe, but can develop in any joint. 

Researchers from City Hospital in Nottingham studied data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, to look at the number of existing and new cases of gout in the UK between 1997 and 2012. 

Over 15 years, the prevalence of gout rose by 64%, increasing by around 4% every year. 

Men were around four times more likely to develop the disease, and the highest rates were in Wales and the north-east of England. 

The UK Gout Society told the BBC: "The increase in gout is a result of a combination of factors - primarily an ageing population and a growing obesity problem in the UK.

"People who suspect they have gout should seek help from their GP as the first port of call who will then refer them to a rheumatologist should they continue to suffer from repeated gout attacks."

Professor Alan Silman, the medical director of Arthritis Research UK said: "A severe attack of gout is probably the most painful form of severe arthritis there is - worse than rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.

"It is not a trivial condition, yet its reputation as a 'joke' disease that only affects florid-faced country squires has meant that over the years it's not always taken as seriously as it should be.”