More than one out of three people with gout have not had their uric acid levels checked within the past five years.

About Uric Acid

It’s normal for everyone to have at least some uric acid in their bodies. Too much of it can put people at risk for gout.

As cells die, they release substances called purines, which are also found in some foods. Purines break down and are eliminated as uric acid. Uric acid typically dissolves in the blood and then passes through the kidneys, where it is eventually eliminated through urine. If there is more uric acid than the kidneys can get rid of, a condition called hyperuricemia – or high uric acid in the blood – develops. This can lead to the development of crystals in the joints and other tissues. When these crystals accumulate, they can cause a painful attack of gout.

Not everyone with hyperuricemia will get gout – but once it develops, it is likely to return, unless treated by medicine to lower uric acid levels.

Monitoring Uric Acid Levels

To avoid gout and other problems, uric acid levels should be 6.0 mg/dL or below. A person with a level above 6.8 mg/dL is considered to have hyperuricemia.

Most experts agree that lowering a person’s uric acid level can prevent the painful consequences of hyperuricemia – particularly gout. Medical professionals measure your serum uric acid level through a simple blood test. Just as it’s important to monitor your cholesterol, it is important to know your uric acid levels. People with gout should have their uric acid levels tested every six months to be sure it is below 6.0 mg/dL.