Kidney Stones Linked to Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke

New York, NY (September 1, 2014) - If you have a kidney stone your chances of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke is increased according to an extensive study published in the September issue of the National Kidney Foundation's American Journal of Kidney Diseases.

"People should be concerned about kidney stones," said lead researcher Yanqiong Liu, MM, of the Department of Clinical Laboratory at the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangxi Medical University, China. "Evidence suggests an association between kidney stones and incident cardiovascular disease, even after adjusting for other cardiovascular risk factors."

Kidney stones are becoming recognized as a systemic disorder associated with conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease, but it appears these painful stones can also predict future cardiovascular events.

The meta-analysis was conducted by reviewing data from over 3,500,000 patients, about 50,000 patients reported having kidney stones. Researchers found that those with stones had a 19 percent increase in risk of incident CHD (defined as either having a heart attack or arterial bypass surgery) and a 40 percent increase in the risk of having a stroke.

Perhaps most surprising, when the results were separated by sex, women had significantly higher rates of CHD than men.

"The evidence for an increased risk of myocardial infarction in female kidney stones patients but not in male kidney stones patients is suggestive but not conclusive," said Liu. "It was unexpected and difficult to explain. We feel these findings need to be confirmed by further prospective studies, in which the mechanisms underlying this association should be examined."

Kidney stones affect more than 1 in 10 people in the United States, according to the National Kidney Foundation, and these findings may have implications for assessing patients in the primary care setting.

"Kidney stones are common and with their association to coronary heart disease and stroke found in this study it suggests that a thorough cardiovascular assessment should be considered in patients who develop kidney stones," said Thomas Manley, director of scientific activities, National Kidney Foundation. "It also suggests that anyone developing a kidney stone should seriously think about lifestyle modifications, such as weight loss, diet improvement, smoking cessation and exercise, that will help prevent the development of both kidney stones and vascular disease."

Kidney Stone Facts from the National Kidney Foundation

  • A kidney stone is a hard mass that forms from crystals in the urine. In most people, natural chemicals in the urine stop stones from forming.
  • Not all kidney stones are the same. The most common types of kidney stones are made from calcium and oxalate. Individual treatment for kidney stones depends on the type of kidney stones that are formed.
  • Kidney stones may be caused by drinking too little water, exercise (too much or too little), obesity, weight loss surgery, or eating food with too much salt or sugar.
  • Infections and family history also play a part in the likelihood of developing a kidney stone.

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families, and tens of millions of Americans at risk. For more information, visit