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Men's Health: Kidney stones are a clue to heart health

Men with a history of the painful condition are more likely to suffer cardiovascular problems

Men who’ve had kidney stones are at slightly higher risk for developing heart disease, a recent study has shown.

“There are certainly other risks for heart disease which are stronger. This just gives us some additional information on how to think of stones patients and to have it in our minds that they may be at increased risk,” says Dr. Brian Eisner, the lead author of the study and a resident urologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

A kidney stone consists of substances in the urine that have become so concentrated they form a solid mass of crystals. The stones are painful but usually are excreted in the urine without causing permanent damage.

The study involved nearly 46,000 men ranging in age from 40 to 75 years. About 10 per cent said they had a history of kidney stones.

After the researchers adjusted for other heart disease risk factors, they found that men with a history of stones had a 15 per cent greater risk of developing heart disease than men without a history of stones. These men also had increased risks for the more specific outcomes of heart attack (16 per cent), chest pain (26 per cent) and bypass surgery (23 per cent), but they did not have an increased risk of stroke.

The researchers aren’t sure why there is an association between kidney stones and heart disease, but they speculate that stones may be related to unhealthy blood vessels.