Gallstones and Heart Disease: A Possible Link

Heart disease risk and gallstone disease may be linked

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Anyssa Garza, PharmD

(RxWiki News) What do gallstone disease and heart disease have in common? More than you might think, according to new research.

These new findings, published in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, were based on seven studies that included a total of nearly 843,000 participants and more than 51,000 heart disease cases. The researchers behind this study assessed the connection between a medical history of gallstones and the development of heart disease.  

These researchers noted that gallstone disease and heart disease share similar risk factors, which include poor diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and diabetes

Furthering the link between the two conditions, this study found a 23 percent increase in heart disease risk in those with a medical history of gallstone disease. 

Dr. Lu Qi, senior study author and professor of epidemiology at Tulane University, said in a press release that "Our results suggest that patients with gallstone disease should be monitored closely based on a careful assessment of both gallstone and heart disease risk factors."

Dr. Qi went on to note that preventing gallstone disease may benefit heart health. 

Past studies have shown conflicting results on whether the similar risk factors between heart disease and a medical history of gallstone disease are the reason for this connection.

The researchers behind the current study did not determine the reason behind the link between gallstone disease and heart disease. However, they did list bile acid secretion and gut microbiota as possibilities. 

Additional research on the factors that link the two conditions is warranted, these researchers said. 

This study was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center and the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation. Conflicts of interests were not disclosed at publication time. 

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Review Date: 
August 23, 2016
Last Updated:
August 26, 2016