Two new studies show the prevalence of gout in the UK and the US has risen in recent years.
Rates have also increased in the States over the past 20 years and now affect 8.3 million (4%) Americans.
The jump in prevalence rates may be associated with a greater frequency of obesity and hypertension, suggest researchers in the Arthritis & Rheumatism journal.
Gout, an inflammatory arthritis triggered by crystallization of uric acid within the joints, causes severe pain and swelling.
Medical evidence suggests that gout is strongly associated with metabolic syndrome — a group of health conditions characterised by obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and blood lipid issues — and may lead to heart attack, diabetes and premature death.
Researchers for the US study compared data from the latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that was conducted in 2007 and 2008, to previous surveys (1988-1994).
In a statement, lead researcher Dr Choi said: “We found that the prevalences of gout and hyperuricemia continue to be substantial in the US adult population.
"Improvements in managing modifiable risk factors, such as obesity and hypertension, could help prevent further escalation of gout and hyperuricemia among Americans.”