History of kidney stones may indicate risk for stroke and heart attack

March 3, 2014 by Amy Hewko, University of Alberta
Todd Alexander led a study that revealed a link between kidney stones and heart problems, particularly for young women.

(Medical Xpress)—A new study from University of Alberta researchers suggests that patients, particularly women, with a history of kidney stones may be at a higher risk for stroke and heart attack.

The study, published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, was led by Todd Alexander, associate professor of and adjunct professor of physiology in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.

The researchers analyzed information over 12 years from more than three million Canadian over the age of 18. Alexander compared the prevalence of attacks, stoke and artery bypass surgeries in patients who had a kidney stone with that among the rest of the population. Results showed that patients who had at least one kidney stone were significantly more likely to experience , stroke or artery bypass surgeries, regardless of age or other illness.

Women were particularly vulnerable: young women with a history of kidney stones were three times more likely to experience a heart-related complication.

"We were able to show that people who had kidney stones were more likely to get acute myocardial infarction [heart attacks], strokes and revascularization procedures," Alexander said.

The link may be life-altering for patients with a history of kidney stones because it offers an early indication that they should pay close attention to their heart health. High blood pressure is strongly tied to heart-related illnesses but, unless it has been previously diagnosed by a physician, patients are often unaware they have the condition. Kidney stones, on the other hand, are painful and require immediate medical attention.

"We call hypertension the silent killer," Alexander explained. "You're not aware you're hypertensive. Kidney stones are different; you're very aware you have a kidney stone. This is potentially a mechanism for one to be identified earlier for screening."

By being screened earlier, patients will be better equipped to control health indicators like blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This benefits the patient's health and eases cost to the health-care system for emergency procedures.

To reduce risk of developing kidney stones, physicians recommend drinking plenty of water, limiting salt intake, limiting soda intake and getting plenty of calcium. But can these habits potentially ward off a or heart attack?

"I would like to think they do, but it's not known," Alexander said. "I don't think it's going to hurt. Less sodium will decrease your and likely decrease your cardiovascular risk.

"Just because you have a kidney stone doesn't mean you're going to have a heart attack. Just because you don't have a doesn't mean you won't. It's not a direct association; it's simply a marker of increased risk."

Alexander now hopes to confirm that the association between kidney stones and heart disease is causal. Pending the results of the secondary study, he would like to investigate whether expelling more calcium through urine decreases the cardiovascular risk.

Explore further: Diet and physical activity may affect one's risk of developing kidney stones

More information: R. Todd Alexander, Brenda R. Hemmelgarn, Natasha Wiebe, Aminu Bello, Susan Samuel, Scott W. Klarenbach, Gary C. Curhan, Marcello Tonelli. "Kidney Stones and Cardiovascular Events: A Cohort Study." CJASN CJN.04960513; published ahead of print December 5, 2013, DOI: 10.2215/CJN.04960513

Related Stories

Diet and physical activity may affect one's risk of developing kidney stones

December 12, 2013
Even small amounts of physical activity may decrease the risk of developing kidney stones, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). The study also found ...

Study says exercise cuts kidney stone risk in women

May 3, 2013
Exercise has another benefit: A new study finds that being active may help prevent kidney stones in women.

Kidney stones associated with modest increased risk of coronary heart disease in women, but not men

July 23, 2013
An analysis of data from three studies that involved a total of more than 240,000 participants found that a self-reported history of kidney stones was associated with a statistically significant increased risk of coronary ...

Kidney patients may gain from less salt

January 31, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Reducing salt consumption may help prolong the lives of patients with chronic kidney disease, a study from The University of Queensland study has found

Kidney stones linked with small increased risk of later kidney problems

August 30, 2012
Kidney stones are associated with a small but significant increased risk of developing more serious kidney problems later in life, suggests a study published in the British Medical Journal today.

Sugar-sweetened beverages associated with increased kidney stone risk

May 15, 2013
Twenty percent of American males and 10 percent of American females will experience a kidney stone at some point in their lifetime. Often, these patients will be advised to drink more fluids as a way to prevent future stone ...

Recommended for you

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

January 16, 2018
Researchers have discovered that genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could serve as indicators to help identify people who have low, but stable, lung function early in life, and those who are particularly at risk ...

Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic

January 16, 2018
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule.

Don't hold your nose and close your mouth when you sneeze, doctors warn

January 15, 2018
Pinching your nose while clamping your mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze isn't a good idea, warn doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

New antifungal provides hope in fight against superbugs

January 12, 2018
Microscopic yeast have been wreaking havoc in hospitals around the world—creeping into catheters, ventilator tubes, and IV lines—and causing deadly invasive infection. One culprit species, Candida auris, is resistant ...

Dengue takes low and slow approach to replication

January 11, 2018
A new study reveals how dengue virus manages to reproduce itself in an infected person without triggering the body's normal defenses. Duke researchers report that dengue pulls off this hoax by co-opting a specialized structure ...

Different strains of same bacteria trigger widely varying immune responses

January 11, 2018
Genetic differences between different strains of the same pathogenic bacterial species appear to result in widely varying immune system responses, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.