It's normal to have uric acid in your body, but too much can increase your risk for gout – an extremely painful form of inflammatory arthritis that often presents with other health issues, including kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes and permanent joint and tissue damage. Despite this, just 10 percent of gout sufferers are being properly treated – and more than one-third have not had their uric acid checked in the past five years.
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To raise awareness about the need for timely treatment for gout – including regular monitoring of serum uric acid (sUA) levels – the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society (GUAES) has introduced a new "Go for Six" campaign. The campaign urges those who have or who are at risk for gout to get their sUA levels checked every six months, and to work with their doctor to determine a treatment plan for controlling gout and keeping sUA levels to a healthy 6 mg/dL or below.
"Keeping uric acid levels below 6 mg/dL is vital to minimizing risk for gout and other health issues. But while many Americans are aware of other target health numbers – such as for blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol and blood sugar – few know their uric acid levels," said N. Lawrence Edwards, M.D., rheumatologist and GUAES chairman. "Through the 'Go for Six' campaign, we hope to educate more gout sufferers about the importance of getting their sUA levels checked regularly – and monitoring them to ensure they're at a healthy level."
On May 22 – National Gout Awareness Day – GUAES will kick off its "Go for Six" campaign with a satellite media tour featuring rheumatologist and gout expert, Dr. Brian Mandell, as well as football legend and gout sufferer, Anthony "Spice" Adams. A former player for the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers, Adams was diagnosed with gout at the age of 29 during a break from the Chicago Bears' 2009 season.
"Before I even came back for the season, I had to be put on the injury report – the pain was excruciating," said Adams. "Today I avoid painful gout flares by taking medicine daily to lower my uric acid. I also exercise, stay hydrated and limit food triggers like red meat."
Educational materials available through the "Go for Six" campaign include a patient-focused poster and brochure, which overview the importance of regular sUA testing and monitoring. These materials can be downloaded and ordered free-of-charge at GoutEducation.org.
The Gout & Uric Acid Education Society is a nonprofit organization of health care professionals dedicated to educating the public and health care community about gout – the most common form of inflammatory arthritis – and the related consequences of hyperuricemia. Learn more at gouteducation.org. Twitter: @GoutEducation