Objective: To investigate the incidence of gout and the interaction between uric acid level and other risk factors in the development of gout.
Methods: Two hundred twenty-three asymptomatic hyperuricemic men initially studied in 1991-92 were reassessed in 1996-97. Gout was clinically diagnosed by a senior rheumatologist based on history and physical according to the clinical criteria of Wallace. Basic demographic and lifestyle variables as well as biochemical data were collected in both baseline and followup periods. Both the stability analysis and the analysis of repeated relationships were applied.
Results: The 5-year cumulative incidence of gout was 18.83% (42/223). The risk factors for gout based on the analysis of repeated relationships were uric acid level, alcohol consumption, use of diuretics, and obesity. The only predictor of gout at baseline was uric acid level. After adjusting for baseline uric acid level, followup uric acid increase, persistent alcohol consumption, use of diuretics in the followup period, and body mass index increase were independent predictors for gout among asymptomatic hyperuricemic men. Excessive alcohol consumption, particularly if occasional, was the most important factor in the development of gout, even when the concentration of uric acid level was below 8 mg/dl.
Conclusion: Uric acid level is the key factor for prevention of gout and needs constant monitoring. Other contributing or possible etiologic factors such as alcohol consumption, diuretics use, and excess weight gain carry an increased risk of gout attack among patients with hyperuricemia.