If you live with gout, you know how uncomfortable it can be. The pain of gout attacks can be excruciating, and being susceptible to them means you have to watch your alcohol intake and meat consumption. But did you know that gout flares may also be associated with cardiovascular issues? Below is information on the gout-cardiovascular connection, plus tips for reducing gout flareups and boosting your heart health.
What is gout?
Gout is a common condition that affects people of any age. It’s a form of arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood, says Mayo Clinic. Flareups, characterized by inflammation in your joints, often occur at night, and can include uncomfortable symptoms like joint pain, limited range of motion, redness, and discomfort that lingers for days to weeks.
How can I reduce gout attacks?
For proactive steps that prevent gout attacks, ask your doctor about medical interventions. For immediate relief, try these research-backed methods for lessening gout problems and boosting your overall heart health.
Adopt a hiker’s trick.
People who maintain a physically active lifestyle are less likely to develop gout, say UC Berkeley scientists, after studying adult male runners. If you don’t like running, try a daily outdoor walk, which is still good exercise with numerous health benefits.
The hitch, of course, is the weather. Cold outdoor temperatures may trigger uric acid crystals to settle in your feet where they cause pain, say NYU scientists.
The fix is adopting an old hiker’s trick: Layer your socks. Start with a thin, moisture-wicking sock, says Broadmoor Outfitters. This will keep your foot dry. Next, layer for heat insulation using wool socks. This strategy will keep your feet comfortable and warm as you walk, which makes you less likely to skip this heart-healthy activity.
Sip a cherry spritzer.
A JAMA study found that women who consumed more sugary soda over 22 years had a higher risk of gout than those who drank less. Like a fizzy drink with your lunch? No worries. A smart swap: tart cherry juice topped with plain seltzer. Anthocyanins in cherries reduce uric acid, and regular consumption of cherries may lessen the risk of gout attacks, say Boston University scientists. Already on meds for gout? The same study found that people taking the prescription drug allopurinol who consumed cherries daily cut their risk of future flare-ups even further.
Try an ancient remedy.
Ayurvedic medicine has long used the fruit of the Terminalia bellirica tree for its healing benefits, one of which may be the prevention of gout. Uric acid buildup is a key component of gout attacks. Compounds in this tree fruit may lower uric acid levels, says a 2016 study. Ask your doctor if a supplement containing therminalia belliricia, like this one from Life Extension (Buy from Life Extension, $18), could help you.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
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