Individuals with gout, especially women, have a higher likelihood of dying from COVID-19 compared with those without the condition, according to new study findings.
Among 459,837 adults aged 49-86 years at recruitment into the UK Biobank, 16,898 were diagnosed with COVID-19 and 1111 died from COVID-19-related causes.
In the entire cohort, gout was significantly associated with 1.3-fold increased odds of COVID-19-related death, Tony R Merriman, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and colleagues reported in The Lancet Rheumatology. This heightened risk existed after adjusting for 16 gout-related comorbidities, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and chronic kidney disease, and other potential confounders.
Gout in women significantly increased the odds of COVID-19-related death by nearly 2.0-fold, whereas gout in men did not significantly increase those odds.
“Understanding the drivers of this increased risk in women with gout warrants further investigation in larger datasets,” according to Dr Merriman’s team.
In analyses restricted to the 16,898 adults with COVID-19, gout was significantly associated with 1.2-fold increased odds of COVID-19 diagnosis, but it was not significantly associated with COVID-19-related death. In subgroup analyses by vaccination status, the unvaccinated group had significant 1.2-fold increased odds of a COVID-19 diagnosis. The likelihood of a COVID-19 diagnosis was not increased in the vaccinated patients.
The investigators found no significant reductions in the risk for COVID-19-related death with prescription of urate-lowering therapy or colchicine.
“There is a paucity of data on outcomes for people with gout and COVID-19,” the investigators stated. Death risks may vary by COVID-19 variant and other factors, so they noted that ongoing research is vital.
In an accompanying editorial, Karen Schreiber, MD, PhD, and colleagues from the University of Southern Denmark in Sonderborg, Denmark, discussed the real-world application of the evidence.
“First, these data add to the existing data on the importance of vaccination of patients with gout,” they wrote. “Second, the results might inform health-care providers on the importance of advising patients with gout on the risk related to COVID-19. Finally, these data could guide risk assessment and treatment decisions for physicians treating hospitalised patients with COVID-19 with a medical history that includes gout.”
Disclosure: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.
Topless RK, Gaffo A, Stamp LK, et al. Gout and the risk of COVID-19 diagnosis and death in the UK Biobank: a population-based study. Lancet Rheum. Published online January 28, 2022. doi:10.1016/S2665-9913(21)00401-X