High levels of uric acid, according to Eswar Krishnan, MD, assistant professor of immunology and rheumatology at Stanford University, dramatically increase your chance of getting heart failure later in life. Uric acid is produced naturally in the body as a byproduct of a variety of meals. High amounts are best recognized for causing gout, a kind of arthritis.

While high uric acid levels are known to be a predictor of poor prognosis in those who have already been diagnosed with heart failure, no previous study had conclusively connected high uric acid levels to new instances of the condition.

Nearly 5 million Americans suffer from heart failure, a condition in which the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body is weakened. It shortens life expectancy, lowers the quality of life, and can lead to death. While drugs can help, a heart transplant is presently the only known cure.

Krishnan used data from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to investigate the link between high uric acid levels (more than 6 mg per tenth litre) and later heart failure in the Framingham Offspring cohort study participants. This study included 4,912 of the 4,989 participants in the cohort study. Heart failure was reported in 196 instances.

The Framingham Offspring cohort study, which began in 1971, followed and observed participants for 25 years for cardiovascular events.

Krishnan discovered that heart failure rates were considerably greater among patients with high uric acid levels after correcting for a large range of covariates such as smoking, weight, kidney dysfunction, valvular heart disease, diabetes, alcohol usage, and use of anti-hypertensive drugs.

Participants in the Framingham Offspring study were 36 years old on average when they started. On average, people with high uric acid levels developed heart disease 20 years later in life.

According to Krishnan, a simple blood test that is already available to physicians could be an excellent screening tool for determining a patient’s risk of developing heart failure. It could aid clinicians in identifying younger patients who should be actively treated for other heart failure risk factors such as hypertension or obesity. He did say, however, that it’s unclear whether drugs that lower uric acid levels can help prevent future heart failure instances. Future research could look into this, according to Krishnan.

According to the study, it’s unclear why uric acid is a predictor of heart failure. Endothelial dysfunction is known to be caused by uric acid, which inhibits nitric oxide generation, potentially causing heart damage. Another explanation is that excessive levels of uric acid promote inflammation, which leads to heart failure.

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