There are 20,000 people in Edinburgh with gout and soon they will have their condition under control thanks to a new self-management pilot study.
The study encourages patients to manage their own gout by doing finger prick tests at home to measure their urate levels – the amount of uric acid in the blood – which is the biggest risk factor for gout. develop and control gout.
They will use a smartphone app, called GoutSMART, to send their results to a healthcare team who will send them instant treatment advice.
This seems to me to be a much more effective way of controlling urate levels than standard monitoring.
Plus, it has the added benefit of helping an overburdened NHS by reducing A&E attendance and hospital stays.
As anyone with gout knows, bouts of severe joint pain can come on suddenly, leading to poor quality of life and sometimes disability. And it’s becoming more and more common.
Compared to when I practiced, the number of people affected by gout has increased along with the aging of the population, the increase in obesity and heart disease. There is drug treatment that will prevent these sudden and debilitating attacks, but at least half of gout patients never receive it.
Moreover, among those who receive the treatment, at least half do not receive a high enough dose. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh say this is due to a lack of professionally supervised treatment and a lack of patient understanding of how the treatments work.
Keeping urate levels low means patients need to take medication every day. The foundation of long-term gout treatment is to keep urate levels low and one study followed the results in 60 patients who had been recommended by their doctors for urate-lowering treatment.
Some 40 patients in the self-management group received a urate self-test reader and, after uploading their results to the app, received direct treatment advice from specialists.
A further 20 received usual care in which their management plan was implemented by their GP.
An ideal (or less) urate goal at 24 weeks was achieved by 73% of patients in the self-management group, compared to only 15% in the usual care group.
“Helping patients manage their own gout can transform clinical outcomes, and the approach we’ve developed offers a way to do this without putting more strain on an already strained healthcare service,” says rheumatologist Dr. Philip Riches consultant at the University of Edinburgh’s Center for Genomic and Experimental Medicine.