Aortic calcification linked to heart disease in stone patients

February 4, 2015

Blood vessel calcification may increase risk of heart disease in patients with recurrent kidney stones, according to a recent study.

Blood vessel calcification may increase risk of heart disease in patients with recurrent kidney stones, according to a recent study.

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For the study, which was published online in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (Jan. 29, 2015), the authors used computed tomography scans to evaluate the severity of abnormal calcium deposition in the abdominal aorta. The study included 111 participants, of whom 57 were recurrent kidney stone formers and 54 were healthy controls.

The authors found that patients with kidney stones had more calcification in the abdominal aorta, which could explain their increased risk for heart disease, according to a press release from the American Society of Nephrology. They also found that stone formers had less dense bones compared with individuals who did not develop kidney stones. Previous studies have shown that vascular calcification often occurs alongside bone loss, suggesting a relationship between osteoporosis and atherosclerosis.

“Our findings raise several important questions that may be relevant to the care of patients with kidney stones. Existing CT can be a useful tool for assessment of aortic calcification and osteoporosis, along with kidney stone number and distribution. Moreover, preliminary experimental and clinical evidence suggests that therapeutic strategies aimed to treat osteoporosis may have a favorable effect on vascular calcification,” said first author Linda Shavit, MD, of University College London Medical School, London, and Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem.

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She noted that additional research is needed to confirm that heart disease can be reduced by measures aimed at identifying and reducing vascular calcification and osteoporosis in patients with kidney stones.

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In an accompanying editorial that was also published online in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (Jan. 29, 2015), Eric Taylor, MD, MSc, of Maine Medical Center, Portland and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, noted that the study raises a number of unanswered questions.

“The nexus between calcium kidney stone formation, bone demineralization, and atherosclerosis should be an active area of investigation pursued by the clinical investigator and basic scientist alike,” Dr. Taylor wrote. “Future studies will require careful assessment of calcium-phosphorus regulatory hormones and inhibitors of tissue calcification hypothesized to play important roles in the complex pathophysiology of all three disease states.”

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