A Common Cause?

Researchers explore the relationship between kidney stones and clogged arteries

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Kidney stones and clogged arteries may be related by a common cause. A study shows that people who have had kidney stones are more likely to develop clogged arteries.

Kidney stones are hard masses that form in the urinary tract when chemicals in the urine fail to prevent crystals from forming. Although we don't always know precisely what causes kidney stones, there are many risk factors of formation, including certain foods, family history of stones, certain kidney diseases, and some metabolic disorders.

Many people pass kidney stones out of the body without the involvement of a physician. However, as kidney stones can be extremely painful, people make nearly three million visits to health care providers each year, with over half a million going to the emergency room.

Clogged arteries occur due to a number of factors. For the purpose of this study, researchers examined the relationship between kidney stones and atherosclerosis, a condition in which calcium deposits form along arterial walls, often clogging arteries. Risk of atherosclerosis is increased by diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, personal or family history of heart disease, heavy alcohol use, and smoking.

According to the study's authors - who included researchers from the University of Washington, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of Minnesota, the University of California in San Francisco, and other institutions around the U.S. - no previous studies have analyzed the relationship between kidney stones and atherosclerosis. However, recent reports have suggested that the two conditions share a number of risk factors.

In order to explore this notion, researchers analyzed data from 5,115 white and black American adults participating in the CARDIA study. They found that 3.9 percent of the participants reported having at least one kidney stone over the 20-year course of the study. After measuring the thickness of participants' carotid arteries, researchers found that those who reported ever having a kidney stone were 60 percent more likely to have clogged arteries.

In conclusion, the authors write that their findings add to the body of research that provides evidence of a relationship between kidney stones and clogged arteries. Future research should strive to identify the common cause between these two conditions.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 28, 2011
Last Updated:
January 31, 2011