RESEARCHERS in Edinburgh have developed an app which gives patients the power to manage gout to combat the rise in cases.

The smartphone app, GoutSMART, developed at the University of Edinburgh, aims to give sufferers the ability to self-manage their own condition using an at-home testing service.

Researchers are being motivated to tackle the disease in response to a rise in cases of gout in recent years.

Gout, a form of arthritis, causes sudden and intense joint pains which can result in disability.

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Despite effective drugs being available to treat symptoms, researchers say that at least half of gout patients do not get treatment or fail to receive effective amounts.

Dr Philip Riches, a consultant rheumatologist at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, believes a self-management system has the potential to improve the lives of patients by offering a sustainable way to manage their illness.

The researchers behind the app also hope to take pressure off the NHS by preventing emergency visits and prolonged stays at hospital.

Dr Riches said: “Supporting patients to manage their own gout can transform clinical outcomes, and the approach we have developed offers a way of doing this without putting more pressure on an already stretched healthcare service.”

The app aims to combat gout by using a finger prick which measures the amount of uric acid in the bloodstream – the most important factor when managing gout. A similar self-testing approach is already taken to manage diseases like diabetes.

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This self-management strategy was successfully tested on a small group of patients.

The initial study tracked 60 patients who were receiving therapy due to high uric acid levels, with 40 patients introduced to the self-management system and the others to a traditional management plan by their GP.

The results of the study showed 73% were successful in reducing their uric acid levels on the self-management whereas only 15% were successful on the traditional plan.

Researchers say that further trials needed to be conducted with larger groups to evaluate both the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the self-management plan.