Weather Found to Affect Gout Attack Risk

Likelihood is greater under conditions of high temperature and/or low relative humidity.
Likelihood is greater under conditions of high temperature and/or low relative humidity.

High ambient temperatures and possibly extremes of humidity are associated with an elevated risk of a recurrent gout attack, according to researchers.

Tuhina Neogi, MD, PhD, of the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues evaluated the combined association of temperature and relative humidity with the risk of recurrent gout in in 619 individuals who responded to questions on a study website. All had physician-diagnosed gout and had a gout attack within the past 12 months. The study population had a median age of 54 years (range 21-88 years).

Compared with a temperature of 50°-59° F, temperatures of 70°-79° and 80° F and above were associated with a 43% and 40% increased risk of a recurrent gout attack, respectively. Temperatures of 30°-39° degrees F and less than 30° degrees F were associated with a 25% and 40% decreased risk, respectively, Dr. Neogi's group reported online ahead of print in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Compared with a relative humidity of 60%-74%, a relative humidity of 40%-49% and less than 40% was associated with a 37% and 55% increased risk of a recurrent gout attack, respectively.

The researchers also examined the combined association of temperature and humidity. For example, the risk of a recurrent gout attack was 2-fold greater when the temperature was 70° degrees F or higher and the relative humidity was below 60% compared with when the temperature was 50°-69° F and the relative humidity was 60%-74%, according to the investigators.

“The biological mechanisms underlying these associations require further exploration and may include volume depletion or behavioral changes in response to the weather that may influence gout attack risk,” the authors concluded. “Patients with gout may be advised that under conditions of hot and/or dry weather, appropriate measures, such as increased water intake, should be considered to minimize the risk of recurrent gout attacks.”

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