High levels of serum uric acid in the blood could reduce people's chance of surviving and also reduce their lifespans by up to 11 years, say researchers.
The study, published in the journal BMJ Global Health, found evidence of substantial reductions in patient survival associated with extreme concentrations of serum uric acid (SUA) for both men and women.
"This is the first study to yield detailed survival statistics for SUA concentrations among Irish men and women in the health system," said study lead author Leonard Browne from the University of Limerick in the US.
"Our key question was to determine whether SUA, a routinely measured blood marker, could help us predict a patient's lifespan, all else being equal," Browne added.To answer this, the research team collected data from 26,525 patients.
For men, the message was quite clear. The median survival was reduced by an average of 9.5 years for men with low levels of SUA, and 11.7 years for men with elevated SUA levels.Similarly, for women, it was found that the median survival was reduced by almost six years for those with greater SUA levels.
According to the researchers, there was good evidence that high levels of SUA are associated with a range of serious chronic medical conditions such as kidney failure, hypertension, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.These known associations might in part explain the high mortality observed in patients with elevated SUA levels in the study.
"Indeed, when we looked at the cause of death for these patients, we found on one hand that men and women with very high SUA levels died from cardiovascular causes," the study authors wrote.
"We also found that very low levels of SUA were also associated with a higher risk of death primarily in men. This would of course, suggest that very low levels of SUA are also detrimental to survival," they added.