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By Safron Jeen
High levels of uric acid in the blood are as dangerous as high levels of blood cholesterol. The public does not seem to be much aware of the risk involved. A high level of blood uric acid is a pushing factor in causing coronary artery disease, like high levels of blood cholesterol.
High levels of uric acid should be detected as early as possible, especially in persons who are prone to coronary artery disease/heart attack, or have a family history of heart attack or even stroke. The estimation should be done more frequently if the patient is addicted to alcohol, or mainly takes a non-vegetarian diet. In all cases of stone, either in the gallbladder or in the urinary tract, uric acid must be tested. The testing of blood uric acid is highly valuable in cases of problems of the joints, backaches and even in cases of vague aches and pains. If this test is ignored and high levels of blood uric acid are not taken note of, the patient will continue to suffer from backache or vague aches/pains, and moreover, various other complications of high blood uric acid may also appear in due course.
Uric acid is one of the constituents of the blood. Its normal levels are 2 – 6 mg/ dl.
Uric acid mainly comes from non-vegetarian food or its products, like soups, etc. It also comes from caffeine present in tea or coffee. Therefore, when a person takes either meat or teal coffee, he adds to the uric acid in the blood. Other beverages like alcohol, beer, wine, etc. also contribute to the levels of uric acid in the blood.
Besides food, uric acid is also added to the blood from various tissue breakdowns in the body. To some extent, the body also releases its own uric acid.
Normal range of blood uric acid
Normally, excess of uric acid in the blood is excreted by the kidneys, and in this way a normal range of uric acid is maintained. The wide normal variation of uric acid, i.e. from 2 to 6 mg/ dl, is due to the fact that certain factors influence the blood uric acid levels in a person. It differs from race to race. The level is usually lower during pregnancy, and it increases after vigorous activity / exercise. However, if a person has some complications as a result of high levels of uric acid, even an upper normal level of blood uric acid may be considered high in such cases.
High levels of blood uric acid may playa vital role in causing coronary artery disease. It is a dangerous complication caused by a high level of uric acid. A high level of uric acid is likely to damage the blood vessel walls and urate crystals may get deposited in these walls, leading to a narrowing of the blood vessels causing coronary artery disease.
Another debilitating complication of high blood uric acid is that it may cause painful swelling of the joints, i.e. arthritis, especially gout. In gout, there is a recurrent attack of acute pain and swelling, involving at first only the big toe, and then several joints may be affected and the patient may even be crippled, if the disease is not arrested/treated/prevented in time. The exact cause of high blood uric acid in gout is not known. The heredity factor in such cases cannot be ruled out.
As already said, vague aches/pains or backaches may be the result of high blood uric acid.
In addition to the above, kidneys may also be involved due to constant elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. Since uric acid is excreted by the kidneys, and the excretion is much more if the levels are high in a person, the kidneys may be damaged as a result of excess excretion of uric acid through them. There may be a crystallization in the kidneys leading to uric acid stone, and if the excretion continues to be excessive, the kidneys may even be damaged markedly, requiring more drastic measures to maintain normal kidney functions. However, if high blood uric acid is detected and treated early, kidney damage may be reversed. Hence there is a vital need to detect high levels of uric acid well in time.
Even gallstones (cholelithiasis) are likely to form as a result of high levels of blood uric acid. Gallstones may cause infection in the gallbladder (cholecystitis). It is well known that both cholelithiasis and cholecystitis can lead to cancer of the gallbladder. It is, therefore, advisable that the gallbladder should be removed surgically in all cases of cholelithiasis (gallstones either as a result of high blood uric acid or due to some other reasons) or cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder due to any cause), to prevent the cancer of the gallbladder. Early detection of high blood uric acid helps prevent gallbladder stones/infection, and finally cancer of the gallbladder.
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