(RxWiki News) For many people with gout, a sudden flare-up called a gout attack can be a nightmare.
A new study found that painful gout attacks were most likely to occur at night rather than during the day.
The authors of this study suggested that this finding may help doctors adjust the timing of certain medications to prevent attacks. They wrote that knowing the timing of the attacks "could have practical implications about effective timing of anti-gout [preventive] measures."
"As a result of our study, [medications] that prevent gout flares, especially at night, may be more effective," said lead study author Hyon K. Choi, MD, DrPH, of the Boston University School of Medicine, in a press release.
Patients with gout, a type of arthritis, experience gout attacks characterized by severe, sudden pain and tenderness. For many gout patients, this pain is concentrated in the big toe.
According to these researchers, many gout patients said their attacks normally happened late at night, but there was no clinical evidence on attack timing before this study.
Dr. Choi and team recruited 724 gout patients for this study and asked them to record information about their gout attacks for a year.
Over the course of the study, the patients experienced 1,433 gout attacks. More than half occurred in the middle of the night.
These researchers found that patients were about 2.4 times more likely to have an attack between midnight and 7:59 a.m. than in the daytime, between 8 a.m. and 3:59 p.m.
Additionally, 26 percent more attacks occurred in the evening between 4 and 11:59 p.m. than in the daytime.
Dr. Choi and team suggested that lower body temperature or dehydration during sleep could be at fault. They concluded that the risk of gout attacks was much higher at night than in the daytime and noted that the timing of prevention measures like medication could affect that risk.
This study was published Dec. 11 in Arthritis & Rheumatology.
The Arthritis Foundation, the American College of Rheumatology and the National Institutes of Health funded this study. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.