Worse COVID outcomes seen with gout, particularly in women


People with gout, especially women, appear to be at higher risk for poor COVID-19 outcomes, including hospitalization and death, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, researchers suggest.

“We found that the risks of SARS-CoV-2 infection, 30-day hospitalization, and 30-day death among individuals with gout were higher than the general population irrespective of the vaccination status,” lead study author Dongxing Xie, MD, PhD, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, China, and his colleagues write in their large population study. “This finding informs individuals with gout, especially women, that additional measures, even after vaccination, should be considered in order to mitigate the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and its severe sequelae.”

People with gout, the most common inflammatory arthritis, often have other conditions that are linked to higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection and poor outcomes as well, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and chronic kidney disease, the authors write. And elevated serum urate may contribute to inflammation and possible COVID-19 complications. But unlike in the case of diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, little is known about SARS-CoV-2 infection risk among patients with gout.

As reported in Arthritis & Rheumatology, Dr. Xie and his research team used the Health Improvement Network ([THIN], now called IQVIA Medical Research Database) repository of medical conditions, demographics, and other details of around 17 million people in the United Kingdom to estimate the risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection, hospitalization, and death in people with gout. They compared those outcomes with outcomes of people without gout and compared outcomes of vaccinated vs. nonvaccinated participants.

From December 2020 through October 2021, the researchers investigated the risk for SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infection in vaccinated people between age 18 and 90 years who had gout and were hospitalized within 30 days after the infection diagnosis or who died within 30 days after the diagnosis. They compared these outcomes with the outcomes of people in the general population without gout after COVID-19 vaccination. They also compared the risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection and its severe outcomes between individuals with gout and the general population among unvaccinated people.

They weighted these comparisons on the basis of age, sex, body mass index, socioeconomic deprivation index score, region, and number of previous COVID-19 tests in one model. A more fully adjusted model also weighted the comparisons for lifestyle factors, comorbidities, medications, and healthcare utilization.

The vaccinated cohort consisted of 54,576 people with gout and 1,336,377 without gout from the general population. The unvaccinated cohort included 61,111 individuals with gout and 1,697,168 individuals without gout from the general population.

Women more likely to be hospitalized and die

The risk for breakthrough infection in the vaccinated cohort was significantly higher among people with gout than among those without gout in the general population, particularly for men, who had hazard ratios (HRs) ranging from 1.22 with a fully adjusted exposure score to 1.30 with a partially adjusted score, but this was not seen in women. The overall incidence of breakthrough infection per 1,000 person-months for these groups was 4.68 with gout vs. 3.76 without gout.

The researchers showed a similar pattern of a higher rate of hospitalizations for people with gout vs. without (0.42/1,000 person-months vs. 0.28); in this case, women had higher risks than did men, with HRs for women ranging from 1.55 with a fully adjusted exposure score to 1.91 with a partially adjusted score, compared with 1.22 and 1.43 for men, respectively.

People with gout had significantly higher mortality than did those without (0.06/1,000 person-months vs. 0.04), but the risk for death was only higher for women, with HRs calculated to be 2.23 in fully adjusted exposure scores and 3.01 in partially adjusted scores.

These same comparisons in the unvaccinated cohort all went in the same direction as did those in the vaccinated cohort but showed higher rates for infection (8.69/1,000 person-months vs. 6.89), hospitalization (2.57/1,000 person-months vs. 1.71), and death (0.65/1,000 person-months vs. 0.53). Similar sex-specific links between gout and risks for SARS-CoV-2 infection, hospitalization, and death were seen in the unvaccinated cohort.


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