16:50 16 January 2014
Gout, which is a type of arthritis that is common in overweight people, is now affecting one in 40 people in the United Kingdom, a study claims.
The report, which used the Clinical Practice Research Datalink containing cases of gout in the country between 1997 and 2012, said that among the 4.5 million people on the database in 2012, almost 116,000 had gout. There were also more than 7,000 new diagnoses that were identified.
From 1997, the number of people who were affected by gout increased by 64% - a rise of around around 4% every year.
The UK Gout Society said: "The increase in gout is a result of a combination of factors - primarily an ageing population and a growing obesity problem in the UK.
"People who suspect they have gout should seek help from their GP as the first port of call who will then refer them to a rheumatologist should they continue to suffer from repeated gout attacks."
Professor Alan Silman, the medical director of Arthritis Research UK, urged affected individuals to change their lifestyle to avoid gout.
He said: "A severe attack of gout is probably the most painful form of severe arthritis there is - worse than rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
"It is not a trivial condition, yet its reputation as a 'joke' disease that only affects florid-faced country squires has meant that over the years it's not always taken as seriously as it should be.
"People can reduce their chances of getting gout by changing their lifestyle."
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