Boston Medical Center rheumatologist Peter Grayson, MD, and his research team analyzed information on more than 55,000 participants from 18 studies that included information on uric acid levels and high blood pressure. In doing so, Dr. Grayson discovered that people with hyperuricemia were 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure than people with normal uric acid levels.

“It suggests that this is an entirely new risk factor for developing high blood pressure, in addition to the ones we’ve known about for a long time,” Dr. Grayson explains. “But whether it causes high blood pressure remains to be seen.”

The researchers also found that if you are younger, female or African American and you have high uric acid levels, then you are also more at risk of developing high blood pressure.

Gout Meds May Protect the Heart

The association between high uric acid levels and cardiovascular disease has long been known, but researchers from Taiwan found that drugs designed to prevent gout flares might also have the added benefit of keeping gout patients from dying of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers analyzed data from people with high uric acid levels, those on urate-lowering therapies and those with cardiovascular disease. They found that urate-lowering therapy reduced participants’ risk of cardiovascular disease by 44 percent, reduced the risk of dying from a stroke by 58 percent, reduced the risk of death from hemorrhagic stroke by 88 percent and reduced the risk of death from high blood pressure by 71 percent.

Researchers also discovered the protective effect increased when people stayed on these drugs for more than a year.

“Our study suggests patients with hyperuriemia should be treated more aggressively and persistently than we previously thought, because urate-lowering therapy [may help] prevent not only gout, but also cardiovascular diseases,”explains Jiunn-Horng Chen, MD, PhD, an assistant professor at Taiwan's China Medical University and a rheumatologist at China Medical University Hospital in Taichung.