Research Article: Temporal trends in hyperuricaemia in the Irish health system from 2006-2014: A cohort study

Date Published: May 31, 2018

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Arun Kumar A. U., Leonard D. Browne, Xia Li, Fahd Adeeb, Fernando Perez-Ruiz, Alexander D. Fraser, Austin G. Stack, Cheng Hu.


Elevated serum uric acid (sUA) concentrations are common in the general population and are associated with chronic metabolic conditions and adverse clinical outcomes. We evaluated secular trends in the burden of hyperuricaemia from 2006–2014 within the Irish health system.

Data from the National Kidney Disease Surveillance Programme was used to determine the prevalence of elevated sUA in adults, age > 18 years, within the Irish health system. Hyperuricaemia was defined as sUA > 416.4 μmol/L in men and > 339.06 μmol/L in women, and prevalence was calculated as the proportion of patients per year with mean sUA levels above sex-specific thresholds. Temporal trends in prevalence were compared from 2006 to 2014 while general estimating equations (GEE) explored variation across calendar years expressed as odds ratios (OR) and 95% Confidence intervals (CI).

From 2006 to 2014, prevalence of hyperuricaemia increased from 19.7% to 25.0% in men and from 20.5% to 24.1% in women, P<0.001. The corresponding sUA concentrations increased significantly from 314.6 (93.9) in 2006 to 325.6 (96.2) in 2014, P<0.001. Age-specific prevalence increased in all groups from 2006 to 2014, and the magnitude of increase was similar for each age category. Adjusting for baseline demographic characteristics and illness indicators, the likelihood of hyperuricemia was greatest for patients in 2014; OR 1.45 (1.26–1.65) for men and OR 1.47 (1.29–1.67) in women vs 2006 (referent). Factors associated with hyperuricaemia included: worsening kidney function, elevated white cell count, raised serum phosphate and calcium levels, elevated total protein and higher haemoglobin concentrations, all P<0.001. The burden of hyperuricaemia is substantial in the Irish health system and has increased in frequency over the past decade. Advancing age, poorer kidney function, measures of nutrition and inflammation, and regional variation all contribute to increasing prevalence, but these do not fully explain emerging trends.

Partial Text

Serum uric acid (sUA) has emerged as an important biomarker of cardiovascular health and a large body of evidence now incriminates elevated concentrations in the development of several chronic metabolic conditions, cardiovascular disease, and associated mortality [1–6]. Prospective epidemiological studies have demonstrated that rising sUA concentrations are independently associated with the development of chronic kidney disease, new-onset hypertension, and type 2 diabetes [3–6]. Moreover, evidence has accumulated that elevated sUA concentrations above conventional thresholds predict future myocardial infarction, stroke and cardiovascular death and all-cause mortality [7–9]. Collectively, these studies suggest at the very least that sUA is an important metabolic and cardiovascular biomarker that merits measurement and surveillance.

In this large representative sample of patients within the Irish health System, we observed a substantial burden of hyperuricaemia and a pattern of increasing prevalence from 2006 to 2014. Overall, 20.1% of adult patients within the health system, men and women, were classified as having hyperuricaemia, a figure that increased to 24.5% in 2014. The net growth in prevalence of hyperuricaemia was 4.4% over the 9-year period and this pattern was consistent across health region, location of medical supervision, and across county of residence. Prevalence estimates were highest among elderly patients and those with severely impaired kidney function. Multivariable modelling found that the rise in annual prevalence was not accounted for by measured demographic characteristics, indicators of health status, or location of medical supervision. These findings collectively suggest that the burden of hyperuricaemia, a risk factor for gout and a risk marker for several metabolic conditions, is increasing in the Irish health system.

We found that the burden of hyperuricaemia is substantial in the Irish health system affecting almost a quarter of all adult men and women in 2014. We demonstrated a pattern of increasing prevalence from 2006 to 2014 that was present for most patient subgroups across multiple settings, with the exception of patients with advanced kidney impairment where a trend towards stabilisation was observed. Prevalence estimates were highest among elderly patients and those with severely impaired kidney function. The observed growth patterns were not accounted for by changing demographic and clinical profiles. These findings suggest that the burden of hyperuricaemia is increasing in the Irish health system. Given the emerging body of evidence linking hyperuricaemia to adverse clinical outcomes, better management of uric acid and its determinants should be a major goal.




0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments