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 Wednesday, 25 August, 1999, 22:33 GMT 23:33 UK
Welsh patients hit by gout
Alcohol can worsen gout attacks
Research has revealed that people living in Merthyr have one of the highest rates of gout in the UK.

High living - over-indulgence in rich food and fine wines - is commonly regarded as one of the causes of the painful inflammation.

The research, by doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in North London, was published in the journal of the Royal College of Physicians.

Drink makes attacks worse

Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid in the body, and although it is not originally caused by a luxurious lifestyle and diet, attacks can be made worse by being obese, or eating certain foods or drinking alcohol.

GP and patient
Gout is a painful inflammation
Attacks can be agonising, with uric acid crystals deposited in the joints, particularly the knees, feet and ankles, though occasionally the elbows and wrists. Drug treatment is possible, although there are unpleasant side effects.

If left untreated, excessive uric acid levels can cause serious complications such as permanent arthritis or kidney damage.

Around 200,000 people in the UK currently suffer from attacks.

Poor diet

The research was revealing about the prevalence of other diseases in other towns.

Peptic ulcers, also related to poor diet, along with stress, were reported most in Carlisle, where 17.5% of middle-aged men said they had suffered from them.

Harrogate in Yorkshire was top of the asthma league, way ahead of Dewsbury in second spot, while Wigan holds first place in terms of high blood pressure.

See also:

10 Aug 98 | Health
28 May 99 | Health
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