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NBA Coach Maurice Cheeks Teams Up with the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society (GUAES) to Call a 'Time Out for Gout'

Coach Cheeks partners with rheumatology experts on Gout Awareness Day to

share his story and correct misperceptions about a serious condition

NEW YORK, May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Philadelphia 76ers head coach and four-time NBA All-Star Maurice Cheeks is partnering with the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society (GUAES) to spread the word about gout -- a common and intensely painful form of arthritis that affects approximately three to five million Americans. The 76ers outperformed expectations by reaching the NBA playoffs, but as his team was making its run, Coach Cheeks was experiencing a personal struggle with gout. In February, the gout symptoms affecting the joints in his big toe were so severe that he had to coach several games wearing only one shoe.

"When people ask me to describe what gout feels like, I'm at a loss for words. I had some tough injuries in my playing career, but I've never experienced anything as painful as gout," said Coach Cheeks. "My public struggles with gout have placed me in a unique position to see how widespread the misperceptions about this condition are. If people understood just how painful and debilitating gout can be, I think attitudes would change very quickly."

"Coach Cheeks' story reflects the alarming disconnect between the general public's understanding of gout and the painful reality that so many people living with the condition experience on a daily basis," said N. Lawrence Edwards, M.D., chairman of the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society, and a specialist in rheumatology and professor of medicine at the University of Florida, Gainesville. "Gout is no laughing matter. It is a chronic disease that can lead to excruciating pain and long-term damage to your joints and kidneys if not managed properly."

Gout is caused by an accumulation of sodium urate crystals in the joints and other tissues. These crystals form when there is an abnormally high level of uric acid in the blood (a condition known as hyperuricemia). Most experts agree that lowering a person's uric acid level to less than 6.0 mg/dL is helpful to prevent the painful consequences of gout.

"Unfortunately, the intense pain associated with gout is just the tip of the iceberg," added GUAES board member H. Ralph Schumacher, Jr., M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and rheumatologist at the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "Untreated gout and prolonged hyperuricemia can lead to an accumulation of needle-like urate crystals that not only cause the acute attacks typical of gout, but also can eventually lead to permanent joint damage and even to deposits that bulge out from under the skin (tophi). People with gout are also at higher risk for kidney disease and cardiac problems, including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure."

Coach Cheeks and the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society have developed a three-part "gameplan" to help people with or at-risk for gout take control of the condition:

1. Know the Risk Factors and Triggers for Gout

Risk factors include obesity, previous joint injury or disease, high

blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, kidney disease, genetics

(one out of four people with gout have a family history of the

condition) and elevated uric acid levels (hyperuricemia).

Triggers for attacks include surgery or sudden severe illness and

consumption of large quantities of purine-rich foods, especially meat

products, or excessive alcohol intake, especially beer.

2. Stay in Control of Your Uric Acid Levels

Most experts agree that lowering a person's uric acid level to less

than 6.0 mg/dL is helpful to reduce urate crystal accumulation and

prevent the consequences of hyperuricemia and gout. It is important

to work with your physician to monitor your uric acid level.

3. Talk to Your Doctor and visit to learn more

The Web site features a downloadable patient

brochure with key information about gout.

About Gout

The most common inflammatory arthritis in men over the age of 40, gout is characterized by sudden and severe episodes of pain, tenderness, redness, stiffness and swelling of joints. Gout is most often felt in the large joint of the big toe, but it can affect other joints such as the instep, ankle, heel, knee, wrist, finger and elbow. Today, approximately three to five million Americans suffer the pain and inconvenience of gout, but the good news is that gout can be managed and controlled with medication and through adjustments to diet and lifestyle.

Formed in September 2005, the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society has a comprehensive educational brochure, as well as a user-friendly Web site for patients, caregivers, family members and health care providers. For more information about gout and the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society, please visit

About the National Arthritis Foundation

The Arthritis Foundation is the only national nonprofit organization that supports the more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions with advocacy, programs, services and research.

Support the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society

Potential donors are encouraged to support the educational outreach of the Society. Event sponsorship has been provided to the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society by Savient Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and TAP Pharmaceutical Products, Inc.

Media Contact: Elizabeth Baxter


SOURCE Gout & Uric Acid Education Society
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