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The Gout & Uric Acid Education Society (GUAES) Announces New Survey Results Highlighting Major Gaps in Public Awareness of Gout
Date:5/22/2009

New Findings Released on the Third Annual Gout Awareness Day (May 22)

NEW YORK, May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The Gout & Uric Acid Education Society announced today that new survey results reveal alarming gaps in the public's awareness of gout, a painful and potentially debilitating form of arthritis that affects three to five million Americans. In a survey of more than 2,000 Americans, 65% of adults admitted to being "not at all knowledgeable" about gout and just over 70% did not know that gout is a form of arthritis. In fact, gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis among adults.

"There are a number of myths and misconceptions about gout that have complicated efforts to raise public awareness about this condition," 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. "Because of its association with historical figures who suffered from the condition like Henry VIII, Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton, some people mistakenly believe that gout is a 'historical' condition. The truth is that gout is very much alive today - in fact, the number of Americans with gout has actually doubled over the past 30 years."

Gout is associated with an abnormally high level of uric acid in the blood (a condition known as hyperuricemia), but more than 4 in 5 adults (83%) said they have not had their uric acid levels checked in the last five years, or weren't sure if they had. Among those who have ever suffered from gout, 35% said they have not had their uric acid levels checked in the last five years, or weren't sure if they had.

A third of adults, and just over half of those who have ever suffered from gout believe that gout is curable. While in many cases gout symptoms can be managed effectively with dietary changes and medication, people with gout should not interpret a lack of symptoms as a "cure." Even when painful symptoms are not present, untreated gout and prolonged hyperuricemia can lead to permanent joint damage and deformity. 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.

Almost half (49%) of adults were not aware of the potential crippling effects of gout, such as needing to use a cane or walker, or having to stop working because of limited mobility.

"Advanced gout leads to the same level of work loss, physical disability and diminished quality of life seen in advanced rheumatoid arthritis, but, as these survey results indicate, the severity of the disease remains underappreciated," said Dr. Edwards. "People with gout are often stereotyped as being overindulgent or heavy drinkers and there is a perception that sufferers bring the condition on themselves. If we are going to improve care for the growing number of Americans living with gout, these myths need to be corrected."

About Gout

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). Gout, which affects approximately 3-5 million Americans, is one of the most painful forms of arthritis and the most common form of inflammatory arthritis among adults. Patients describe the pain of a gout attack as one that rivals that of childbirth or the fracture of long bones. Gout causes sudden intense pain and swelling in the joints. Following their first attack of gout, approximately 60 percent of patients will experience another attack within the first year. If gout is left untreated it can lead to permanent joint damage and destruction of tissue.

About the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society

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 www.gouteducation.org.

Potential donors are encouraged to support the educational outreach of the Society. Gout Awareness Day sponsorship has been provided by Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc., and Savient Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

About the Survey

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive from May 5 to May 7 among 2,176 adults ages 18 and older of whom 95 have ever suffered from gout. Results were weighted as needed to reflect the composition of the U.S. population of adults ages 18+ using targets for region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and propensity to be online. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Christina Gibson at 212-367-6818 or Christina.gibson@eurorscg.com.

Please note that information on inflammatory arthritis, symptom management, and effects of untreated gout have been provided by the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society.


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SOURCE The Gout & Uric Acid Education Society
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