We’ve touched base on connections between sleep apnea and other conditions before—from depression to heart disease. However, with a recent study, we have now found a new connection between sleep apnea and gout. This new study found that sleep apnea may increase your risk of developing gout and experiencing flare-ups according to The Washington Post.

Gout’s intense pain and swelling of the joint, mainly the big toe, can often result from the deposit of uric acid crystals in joints and tissues. Let’s take a closer look at this new study and how gout can be connected to sleep apnea.

What Does the Study Show?

A recent study found that sleep apnea causes periods of oxygen deprivation, which triggers overproduction of uric acid in the bloodstream. When this occurs, gout can develop. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2007-2008, almost six percent of men and two percent of women in the United States experienced gout.

Sleep apnea is more common than gout, but it can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and heart failure. Obesity plays an important role in both sleep apnea and gout. However, sleep apnea increased the risk for gout even when weight was accounted for. Within this study, 10,000 people had a new diagnosis of sleep apnea and were compared to more than 40,000 people of similar sex, age, birth year and body composition but without sleep apnea.

Over a one-year period, there were 270 cases of gout—that was 76 in the sleep apnea group and 194 in the larger group. Gout was twice as common in people with sleep apnea as those who did not. Obesity increased the risk of sleep apnea, but some thin people still suffered from sleep apnea, and even these people the risk of gout was increased by 80 percent. The next step would be to test whether treating sleep apnea reduces the risk of gout.

Sleep apnea and gout can be reduced in many people by losing weight if they are overweight, eating healthy and indulging in alcohol and red meats in moderation. Contact Craniofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Center of Georgia for more information on sleep apnea and how treatment can help.