World Heart Day 2023: Expert Decodes The Link Between Uric Acid And The Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
It has been noted that hyperuricemia can affect anyone, though its more prevalent among those suffering from obesity and hypothyroidism.
High uric acid can affect your body in several ways
The American Heart Association published a study in January 2023, connecting elevated levels of uric acid with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that could lead to the development of multiple heart complications such as blood clots, stroke and heart failure. Over the last decade or so, many clinical investigations have used uric acid levels as a predictive marker for the assessment of cardiovascular illness; thereby generating immense interest in understanding uric acid and the co-relation between hyperuricemia and cardiovascular diseases.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally, with an estimated 17.9 million deaths annually. Of these deaths, 85% are due to heart attack and stroke, mainly in low- and middle-income groups across countries. The rise in CVDs and related issues could be blamed on a fast-paced lifestyle and dietary changes.
Understanding uric acid
Uric acid is the waste product formed when food groups such as red meat, seafood, organ meats, or certain types of alcoholic drinks that contain purines are digested and broken down inside the body. Most uric acid passes out in urine; however, if too much uric acid is produced or isn't removed from the body, an elevated uric acid level is reached. Though uric acid levels vary based on gender, the average value is 1.5 to 6.0 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) for women and 2.5 to 7.0 mg/dL for men. Uric acid levels greater than 6.0 mg/dL in women and 7.0 mg/dL in men are classified as Hyperuricemia.
Risks of hyperuricemia
It has been noted that hyperuricemia can affect anyone, though its more prevalent among those suffering from obesity and hypothyroidism. Studies from epidemiology, experimentation, and clinical trials reveal that individuals affected with hyperuricemia are more susceptible to heart disease and vascular damage along with cardiovascular episodes. According to a recent study published in Journal of American Heart Association, researchers followed 339,604 participants for an average of 26 years to note that irregular heartbeat rose as and when uric acid levels rose. Participants in the study with elevated uric acid levels had a 45% higher risk of irregular heartbeat than those with low levels. Additionally, hyperuricemia has long been recognized to be associated with increased cardiovascular risk, including risk of developing hypertension.
Manage uric acid levels
Lifestyle choices such as dietary modifications, regular exercise, with a healthy body weight work together for a healthy heart reducing uric acid levels. However, in some cases, medication may also be required apart from lifestyle modifications. Adopting a healthy plant-based diet and avoiding food and drinks high in purines may help reduce uric acid levels in the blood. Most healthcare professionals recommend including a variety of vegetables, fruits, and legumes along with whole grains over processed food items, especially those high in saturated fat. While certain food groups should be entirely avoided, some foods beneficial in lowering uric acid levels are low-fat dairy products and food items rich in Vitamin C. Additionally, immense focus is put on eating patterns, fluid intake, physical activity and enough sleep to maintain uric acid levels.
Even though the exact relationship between uric acid and heart disease is complex, additional research and studies are underway to help identify uric acid levels that affect heart health. While the medical fraternity understands the associated risks of uric acid levels, this World Heart Day, understand your heart health and consult your healthcare professional for a medical evaluation and a way forward to ensure a happy and healthy heart.
(Dr. Ashwani Mehta, Sr. Consultant Cardiologist; Director Heart Failure Program & Research, Dept. of Cardiology, GRIPMER (Ganga Ram Institute for Postgraduate Medical Education & Research), Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi)
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