If you have a high uric acid level, you could be at greater risk for developing hypertension too. A high uric acid level, or hyperuricemia, is more common in men and older individuals, especially people who eat large amounts of animal protein or drink excessive amounts of alcohol. High blood uric acid levels are also associated with certain medications, genetic conditions and kidney failure. Some people have high uric acid levels for no obvious reason.
Why is a high blood uric acid level important? Not only does it increase the risk for gout, it’s a marker for a greater likelihood of heart disease and kidney problems. Now, according to a new study presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, it’s also a harbinger for blood pressure problems.
Uric Acid and Hypertension
When researchers looked at eighteen studies involving 56,000 participants, they found those with high blood uric acid levels were forty percent more likely to develop hypertension compared to with normal levels. Elevated uric acid levels are much less common in women and young people, but when they occur, they signal an even greater risk of future blood pressure problems. Black people with hyperuricemia are also at a significantly higher risk of developing hypertension.
Do High Uric Acid Levels Cause Hypertension?
No one knows whether uric acid actually causes hypertension, or whether people who are prone to high uric acid levels are also more inclined towards hypertension – for genetic and environmental reasons. This is a question researchers want to explore further – to see if drugs used to lower uric acid levels also reduce the risk of hypertension.
Some animal studies show that uric acid may damage blood vessels directly and increase inflammation in the vessel walls. This could explain why high uric acid levels are associated with heart disease and hypertension.
Uric Acid and Hypertension: The Bottom Line?
If you have a high uric acid level, monitor your blood pressure frequently – especially if you have a family history of hypertension. To lower uric acid levels, cut back on purine-rich foods – especially meat and alcohol. Drink more water and eat more low-fat dairy products. If you’re overweight – lose those extra pounds. And talk to your doctor about whether you need medications to decrease your risk of gout.
Medical News Today. “High Levels Of Uric Acid Could Cause High Blood Pressure”
Am J Med. 1987 Mar;82(3):421-6.