History of gallstones may signal higher risk of heart disease

Reuters Health Information: History of gallstones may signal higher risk of heart disease

History of gallstones may signal higher risk of heart disease

Last Updated: 2016-08-30

By Kathryn Doyle

(Reuters Health) - People who have had gallstone disease are more likely than others to develop coronary heart disease, according to a large analysis of past studies.

"Several previous studies have suggested a potential link between gallstones and cardiovascular disease," said senior author Dr. Lu Qi, professor of epidemiology at Tulane University in New Orleans. "Our study provides the first consistent evidence in a U.S. population."

The researchers combined the results of seven U.S. studies including more than 800,000 people and 51,000 cases of coronary heart disease.

Six percent of women and 3 percent of men had a history of gallstones. These people tended to be older, were more often smokers or regular aspirin users, were less physically active, had a higher body mass index and more often had a history of hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol than others, according to the results online August 18 in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

After adjusting for common heart disease risk factors, as well as age, lifestyle and other factors, researchers found that people with a history of gallstones had a 23 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease compared to others.

"Our study is observational in nature," Qi said, which can't determine cause and effect. "Further investigations are needed to demonstrate whether the observed relation is causal."

Obesity, diabetes, being female, and eating foods high in fat and cholesterol and low in fiber all increase the risk of gallstones, which affects up to 25 percent of adults in the Western world, Qi said.

Patients with gallstones should be monitored closely based on a careful assessment of gallstone and heart disease risk factors, Qi said.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2b9uv3z

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2016.

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