Gout Associated With Increased Hearing Loss Risk in the Elderly

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Hearing impairment is 44% more likely to develop in Medicare patients with vs without gout, a study of Medicare claims data shows.
Hearing impairment is 44% more likely to develop in Medicare patients with vs without gout, a study of Medicare claims data shows.

Gout is associated with an increased risk of hearing loss in elderly individuals, new study findings suggest.

In retrospective study of claims data from 1.71 million Medicare patients aged 65 years and older, the incidence rate of new hearing impairment cases was 16.9 per 1000 person-years among patients with gout compared with 8.7 per 1000 person-years for among those without gout, Jasvinder A. Singh, MD, and John D. Cleveland, MD, of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, reported in BMJ Open (2018;8:e022854). After adjusting for demographics, medical comorbidities and common cardiovascular and gout medications, gout was associated with a significant 44% increased risk of hearing impairment.

“To our knowledge, this study is among the first to describe an association of gout with hearing loss in older adults,” Drs Singh and Cleveland wrote.

New hearing impairment developed in 89,409 of the 1.71 million patients. Patients in whom hearing impairment developed during follow-up were older than those who did not (76.5 vs 75.2 years).

Gout is a chronic inflammatory arthritis characterized by hyperuricemia and urate crystal formation that subsequently result in inflammation and oxidative stress, the authors observed. “These processes could be one of the potential explanations of the association.”

With respect to study limitations, the authors noted that their study findings are only generalizable to individuals aged 65 years and older. In addition, absence of laboratory measures, including serum urate, or markers of inflammation or oxidative stress limited the investigators from assessing whether they are underlying mechanisms of the association between gout and hearing impairment.

Reference

Singh JA, Cleveland JD. Gout and hearing impairment in the elderly: a retrospective cohort study using US Medicare claims data. BJU Open. 2018;8:e022854.

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