By Chloe Vellinga
Chair of Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Medicine in Western Australia Professor Hans Nossent has been tasked with the challenging mission of researching the epidemiology and outcome of systemic inflammatory autoimmune diseases.
Undertaking research since 2014, Professor Nossent has been collaborating with the Busselton Health Study to investigate the association between rheumatoid factor and cardiovascular disease events in patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
One outcome of this research has led to a focus on gout, which is one of the most common forms of arthritis.
"Our estimates have shown that approximately 50,000 people in Western Australia will be effected by gout at least a few weeks a year on an annual basis," Dr Nossent said.
"A medical condition leading to gout is the inability to excrete a product from the metaboliate in our bodies called uric acid. In our research with the Busselton Health Study we have found 10 to 12 percent of patients in the Western Australian population have too much uric acid in their blood and this leads to a significant number of people developing gout and arthritis."
Dr Nossent said the findings also indicated it was not just the joints that were affected by the uric acid; there was also a link indicating there was a common risk factor for heart disease, in line with high blood pressure and high cholestorol.
"We have found it is very important that people not only have regular check ups for their blood pressure but also for the uric acid levels in their body, because it is relatively easy to change the uric acid levels in the blood through diet or through a small amount of medication," Dr Nossent said.
"That will then reduce the number of people suffering from gout and gout attacks and hopefully help people with heart disease."
Dr Nossent hopes by doing this research they will improve the teaching of rhumatic diseases to today's medical students, which will mean future doctors will have a better understanding of the conditions, leading to earlier diagnosis and treatment.
Extract taken from Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA Supplement, published in The West Australian Newspaper, 30 Jan 2017