Objective: To assess the epidemiology of gout and hyperuricaemia in the Italian general population during the years 2005-2009.
Methods: Using the Italian primary care database (Health Search/CSD Longitudinal Patient Database), the prevalence, incidence and recurrence rates of gout and/or hyperuricaemia (serum urate level >360 mmol/l (6 mg/dl)) in outpatients aged ≥18 years during the years 2005-2009 were estimated. Rates together with 95% CI were measured overall and stratified by age, gender and calendar year. The characteristics of patients with newly diagnosed gout and hyperuricaemia were investigated and compared with the general population.
Results: The prevalence of gout increased from 6.7 per 1000 inhabitants in 2005 to 9.1 per 1000 inhabitants in 2009. It increased with advancing age and was fourfold higher in men. A similar trend was observed for asymptomatic hyperuricaemia (85.4 per 1000 inhabitants in 2005 vs 119.3 per 1000 inhabitants in 2009). The incidence of gout remained stable during the observation years (0.93 per 1000 person years in 2005 vs 0.95 in 2009). Recurrent episode rate was 19.1% during the first year following the first gout attack and 31.6% during the following 5 years. Advanced age, increased levels of uric acid, nephrolithiasis and concomitant use of ciclosporin were the main predictors of recurrence of gout attacks.
Conclusion: The prevalence of gout and hyperuricaemia increased in Italy from 2005 to 2009. A high recurrence rate for gout attack was observed during the first year following the first episode. Early management of hyperuricaemia in patients at higher risk of recurrent gout attack should be considered in primary care.