Our new health columnist, Dr Mark Porter, is one of the country’s best-known GPs. With 26 years’ experience in practice and a partner in a busy South Gloucestershire surgery, Mark is also resident doctor on BBC One’s The One Show, presents Radio 4’s Inside Health, writes for The Times, and has even popped up on celebrity versions of The Weakest Link and Mastermind.
Saga Magazine readers can ask for his expert opinion on any health issue, from a sprained wrist to high cholesterol or chronic disease. Mark was awarded an MBE in 2005 for services to medicine.
And here's a sneak peek of Dr Mark's first Q and A from November's issue of Saga Magazine...
Gout may conjure up humorous stereotypes but, as any sufferer will tell you, it’s no laughing matter. And it is not just the pain – gout may be a warning sign of more serious health issues on the horizon.
At least half a million people in the UK have gout and while many of them are rotund middle-aged men, many are not. And women often get it too.
Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the body, a natural waste product of our metabolism. Uric acid is the main constituent in bird droppings. If you’ve seen what they do to the paintwork on your car, you’ll be able to imagine what it feels like to have crystals of the same acid in your joints. But there is now growing evidence that management shouldn’t stop at using medication to achieve pain-free joints.
Raised uric acid levels are linked to various other health problems (such as high blood pressure and diabetes) and thought to be an independent risk factor for premature heart disease and stroke – although the exact relationship is still the subject of ongoing research.
So an attack of gout should be regarded as a red flag, prompting a few basic investigations as well as sensible lifestyle changes.
If you ignore gout, it might not just be your big toe that suffers.
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