Welcome to this Decision Guide about uric acid.
This Decision Guide is for people who have gotten a uric acid test and want information about what their result might mean. If you don't know your uric acid level, contact your doctor to find out what it is. Then, come back here!
Uric Acid — Some Background Information
Uric acid is made when the body breaks down purines, a substance found in high levels in a number of foods and drinks.
The kidneys normally remove uric acid and expel it in your urine so that it does not build up in the body. The two most common problems associated with high uric acid are gout (a form of arthritis) and kidney stones. Low uric acid is rarely a problem — in fact, it's usually found in people who are healthy. When doctors order a uric acid test, they are usually looking for high uric acid (hyperuricemia).
Recent research suggests that elevated uric acid may be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, it's not yet clear whether uric acid actually plays a direct role in cardiovascular problems. This is an area of research that we should all keep an eye on.
There are a number of potential reasons why your uric acid level might be high. It might occur because of:
- Medications — especially diuretics ("water pills"), niacin, and cyclosporin
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Kidney disease
- A diet high in purine-rich foods, including liver or other organ meats, anchovies, mackerel and herring
- Other foods and beverages, such as high fructose corn syrup, beer and wine
- Certain cancers, especially after treatment with chemotherapy
So, let's get to your test results.
Source: from Harvard Health Decision Guides, Harvard Health Publications, Copyright © August 2010 by President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Used with permission of StayWell.