High Uric Acid Levels: Why Timely Detection is Important

High Uric Acid Levels: Why Timely Detection is Important

When a person has high levels of uric acid, which is a normal body waste product, in their blood, there can be a significant impact on patient health. This common condition, also known as hyperuricemia, may not present with immediate symptoms, but its long-term impact on people’s well-being can be significant. Since it often goes undiagnosed, we need a greater emphasis on identifying risk factors and early screening.

Dr. Kartik Peethambaran, Associate Medical Director at Abbott in India commented, “While high levels of uric acid can have a significant impact on the body, the majority of patients are asymptomatic. This makes it vital for people to identify risk factors and get themselves screened for it early so they can detect it on time, effectively manage it, and reduce the risk of related complications. Our effort is to help simplify the screening and care process with solutions that support both doctors and patients. This can ensure that people are empowered with the right information to keep their uric acid levels under control.”

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Dr. Sanjeev Hirematt, Nephrologist, Sagar Hospitals, Bangalore commented, “According to a study, over 30% of patients with diabetes, hypertension or both conditions have hyperuricemia. High uric acid levels can also be risk factors for the progression of chronic kidney disease and acute kidney injury. Yet, in asymptomatic cases, this can go undiagnosed. Early screening and proper management of elevated uric acid are extremely important to manage one’s health well and prevent or manage related conditions.”

Typically, the kidneys remove 60% to 65% of uric acid produced in the body, which is filtered out of one’s bloodstream during urination. The remaining is removed via the gut (intestines and bile). When too much uric acid is formed or not excreted properly, it can be a problem. This may lead to crystals being formed, which can collect in one’s joints or kidneys and cause gout (a painful form of arthritis), kidney stones, or other health complications.

How common is this problem? Studies suggest that hyperuricemia is a steadily rising challenge in India. The prevalence across various Indian states varies, going up to 47.2% in some regions. High uric acid is also especially common among specific populations, including men and the elderly.

Elevated levels of uric acid in the blood can be caused by certain kidney, gastrointestinal, or hormonal diseases that disrupt the normal removal of uric acid from the body. High uric acid levels may also occur when a person consumes excessive amounts of fatty meats, seafood, alcohol, dried beans or peas, and fructose-rich foods, which are high in naturally occurring sugar found largely in fruits like apples, watermelon, and more.

The journey to identifying hyperuricemia

Some individuals with high uric acid levels may develop severe joint pain, tenderness, redness, or swelling. When high uric acid levels result in kidney stones, there can also be signs of pain in one’s lower back or abdomen, nausea, difficulty, or pain when urinating. However, as many as nearly 60% of people with hyperuricemia do not experience symptoms. As a result, many remain undiagnosed. Yet, asymptomatic hyperuricemia is a risk factor for conditions like cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, and more.

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Your risk of this condition may increase when: you are male, elderly, live with obesity or have a high body mass index, or have a diet with a high intake of red meat, seafood, alcohol, or fructose. People with conditions like hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, hyperlipidaemia, and hypothyroidism are also at greater risk.

In fact, certain reputed medical bodies have recommended hyperuricemia screening for patients with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and kidney stones. There are simple tools available, like a risk assessment scale, that can calculate one’s possible risk of elevated uric acid levels.

Avoiding related complications with timely diagnosis

Studies have suggested that people with high uric acid levels may also be at higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. People with hypertension, acute ischemic stroke, or coronary artery disease have a high prevalence of hyperuricemia. Research also indicates that raised uric acid levels may promote insulin resistance, which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, there are also certain lifestyle modifications people can make to prevent hyperuricemia and its related complications, including getting daily exercise and keeping one’s weight in check, limiting consumption of red meat, fish, and alcohol, consuming low-fat dairy products, having sufficient vitamin C-rich foods, and having more vegetable protein, nuts, and legumes avoiding foods with high fructose corn syrup (a type of sugar), reducing sugar-based beverages.

People should consult their doctors if they suspect they could be at high risk of hyperuricemia or are experiencing any concerning symptoms. This will help create a tangible action plan to lower their uric acid levels.

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