Gout, hyperuricemia, and the risk of cardiovascular disease: cause and effect?
Gout and hyperuricemia have long been suspected to be risk factors for cardiovascular disease. However, studies have frequently failed to distinguish whether these entities have an independent effect on cardiovascular risk or serve as markers for other risk factors. In vitro and animal studies suggest that uric acid is a biologically active compound that can increase inflammatory mediators known to lead to vascular damage. In contrast, uric acid also has potentially protective effects as a strong antioxidant, approaching the potency of vitamin C. Large clinical trials demonstrate a consistent relationship between elevated serum uric acid and a variety of cardiovascular diseases, although the strength of association varies greatly. We review the evidence for and against an independent role for hyperuricemia and/or gout in cardiovascular pathology.
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