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Kidney Stones Linked to Coronary Heart Disease in Women

Update Date: Jul 23, 2013 04:10 PM EDT
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Kidney stones have been linked to a small increase in coronary heart disease in women.

New research looking at data from more than 240,000 men and women revealed that a self-reported history of kidney stones was associated with a modest increased risk of coronary heart disease among women, but not men.

Nephrolithiasis, also known as kidney stones, is a common condition at affects men more than women.  However, an increasing number of women are developing kidney stones, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Recent statistics from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a representative sample of the U.S. population, revealed that 10.6 percent of men and 7.1 percent of women reported having a history of kidney stones.  The overall prevalence has also increased from 3.8 percent between 1976 and 1980 to 8.8 percent between 2007 and 2010.

According to researchers, previous findings of the association between kidney stones and coronary heart disease have been inconsistent.

Lead researcher Dr. Pietro Manuel Ferraro, M.D., of Columbus-Gemelli Hospital, Rome, and colleagues looked at the link between kidney stones and risk of incident CHD for individuals with a history of kidney stones.

The study included 45,748 men and 196,357 women in the United States without a history of CHD at baseline who were participants in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, Nurses' Health Study I, and Nurses' Health Study II. Researchers said the diagnoses of kidney stones and CHD were updated biennially during follow-up.  Coronary heart disease was defined as fatal or nonfatal myocardial infarction (MI; heart attack) or coronary revascularization.

A total of 19,678 participants reported a history of kidney stones, and 16,838 incident cases of CHD occurred.

"Multivariable-adjusted analysis of individual outcomes confirmed an association in NHS I and NHS II participants between history of kidney stones and myocardial infarction and revascularization. After pooling the NHS I and NHS II cohorts, women with a history of kidney stones had an increased risk of CHD, fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarction, and revascularization," researchers wrote.

The study revealed that after multivariable adjustable, there was no significantly association between history of kidney stones and CHD in men.

"Our finding of no significant association between history of kidney stones and risk of CHD in men but an increased risk in women is difficult to explain, even though we could not determine whether this was due to sex or some other difference between the male and female cohorts. However, differences by sex are not infrequent in studies analyzing the association between nephrolithiasis and either CHD or risk factors for CHD," researchers wrote.

"Further research is needed to determine whether the association is sex-specific and to establish the pathophysiological basis of this association," they concluded.

The findings are published in the July 24/31 issue of JAMA.

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