Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007-2008, researchers have shown that the prevalence of gout in the United States has increased to 3.9% (8.3 million Americans) compared with 2.7% in NHANES-III, which covered the period of 1988-1994. Additionally, the prevalence of hyperuricemia was 21.4%, or about 43.3 million individuals, and significantly higher than in NHAMES III, with an unadjusted difference of 3.2%.
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The study, which included 5,707 participants and was published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, noted that the NHANES surveys combined interviews, physical examinations, and various laboratory data to reach conclusions about the prevalence of diseases in this time period.1 The 1988-1994 study period included 18,825 patients.
The article indicated that the prevalence of gout was highest in men and seniors at 5.9% and 9.8%, respectively. For women, it was 2%. Hyperuricemia, on the other hand, was nearly equal in the sexes: 21.2% among men and 21.6% among women. The prevalence increased with age, up to 31.4% in people ages 65 years or older.
H. Ralph Schumacher, Jr., MD, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who is not associated with the research, says that the study “addressed prevalence, not incidence, and actually suggested very little increase in the last 20 years.”