ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Spot light on Dani Antman New Lionheart teacher
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Soccer's a Winner for Building Bone Health in Girls
Fractures in Older Adults Up Death Risk
High Birth Weight Doubles Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
CANCER
Meditation May Reduce Stress in Breast Cancer Patients
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
For Dialysis Patients, More Pills = Lower Quality of Life
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Smog Tougher on the Obese
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
DIABETES
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
The Raw Food Diet
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
Exhaust From Railroad Diesel Linked to Lung Ailments
Global Warming Linked to Heightened Kidney Stone Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
FITNESS
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Dr Churchill & Ashley Pelton Interview 1 of 4
Good Sleepers More Likely to Eat Right
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Dangerous Toys Still on Store Shelves, Report Finds
Protect Your Kids From Swine Flu While at Camp
Safety Should Be Priority for Those Involved in Kids' Sports
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Optimism May Boost Immune System
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
SENIORS
Laughter Can Stimulate a Dull Appetite
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Add your Article

Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) -- He's a 15-year veteran of the National Basketball Association, a four-time NBA All-Star, and head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. He's basketball great Maurice Cheeks.

And he's got gout.

"I had no idea what gout was," Cheeks said, describing his first encounter -- at the age of 46 -- with the often-debilitating arthritic condition. "Never heard of it. Never talked to anyone about it, and then I started to find out that there were many other people with this condition."

Cheeks made his remarks at a press conference Thursday in New York City to mark the second annual National Gout Awareness Day, sponsored by the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society (GUAES). The goal is to draw attention to the risks, symptoms, and treatments associated with a condition that strikes between three million and five million adult Americans, and to debunk stereotypes about the so-called "disease of kings."

According to GUAES, gouty arthritis results from a condition known as hyperuricemia -- the build-up of abnormally high levels of uric acid in the blood. A normal waste product that forms from the breakdown of purines found in cells and a wide range of foods, uric acid is usually dissolved in the blood, passed through the kidney, and excreted through urine.

But in excess amounts, sodium urate can crystallize. In some cases, the resulting needle-like formations lodge and jab into joints, bringing about sudden and painful bouts of tenderness, redness, stiffness, and swelling in the big toe, instep, ankle, heel, knee, wrist, finger, or elbow.

People typically describe the pain as akin to the trauma of childbirth or breaking a bone.

"I don't think I can adequately express the pain," Cheeks said.

"I once had a severe ankle sprain, and in order for me to play, they had to wrap it and wrap it and wrap it, because any time I put my foot down, I was not able to play," he added. "But the game was so important. So I played, even though that was probably my worst pain ever. And that pain doesn't even compare to gout."

In February, Cheeks' fourth acute attack of gout triggered inflammation so severe he had to coach several 76ers games with one shoe on and one shoe off. For many people, an attack can turn the mere act of standing and walking into an unmanageable ordeal.

Today, gout is the most common form of arthritis among men over 40. Women also suffer from the condition, but typically after menopause, according to GUAES.

Obesity and the excessive consumption of purine-rich foods -- such as meats, shellfish, and hard liquor and beer -- have long been associated with a risk for gout. And portly figures of history, such as Henry VIII, Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton -- all suffered from gout, popularizing the view that it's an illness of the privileged and out-of-shape.

"But [Maurice Cheeks] defies the stereotypes," said Dr. N. Lawrence Edwards, chairman of GUAES, and vice chair of the department of medicine at the University of Florida, who spoke at the press conference.

While diet does play some role in who get gout, genetics is a major factor, with one in four people having a family history of gout, Edwards said.

"There is an assumption that this is a self-inflicted disease," noted Edwards. "That's the stereotype out there. But clearly Coach Cheeks represents none of this. It's an equal opportunity employer. It affects all strata of society."

Edwards agreed that lifestyle changes, such as keeping in shape and watching one's diet, could help somewhat reduce -- though probably not eliminate -- the risk for acute attacks among people with high levels of uric acid.

He stressed the importance of seeing a doctor and getting a uric acid reading for those who've experienced an attack -- with the aim of getting the serum acid level below the danger point of 6.8 mg/dL. And for many patients hovering above the cut-off, chronic daily medications may be the most effective way to fight back, he said.

"If any of you ever had [gout], you would know you would try to do everything possible to try and prevent it," Cheeks said with a wry smile. "Because once it's full-blown, there's not a whole lot you can do."

More information

To learn more, visit the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society.



SOURCES: Maurice Cheeks, head coach, Philadelphia 76ers; N. Lawrence Edwards, M.D., chairman, Gout & Uric Acid Education Society, and vice chair, department of medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville

Last Updated: May 23, 2008

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