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When people suffer from gallstones, their risk of heart disease increases
Many people in Germany suffer from gallstones. Only around one in four sufferers develop real complaints as a result. Researchers have now found that people who have gallstones are at greater risk of developing heart disease.
American researchers from Tulane University in New Orleans found in an investigation that there is a link between gallstones and an increased risk of heart disease. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology".
Women are almost three times as likely to have gallstones
Gallstones are common around the world. In Germany, too, many people suffer from these small stones made of solidified bile, the experts say. About every sixth German has gallstones. But only a quarter of people affected also develop painful symptoms. Women are almost three times more likely than men to develop gallstones. Gallstones can usually be easily identified by doctors through ultrasound scans. Surgery is almost always necessary to remove painful gallstones.
Gallstones favor heart disease
The results of the new study show a hitherto relatively unknown risk from gallstones. There is a connection between gallstones and an increased risk of heart disease, the scientists explain. If people have suffered from gallstones in the past, this increases the likelihood of developing heart disease in the next few decades. This increased risk is around 23 percent, say the doctors. Some time ago, the results of the German EPIC cohort had already shown that gallstones favor infarction.
Researchers analyze the data from almost 840,000 subjects
For their investigation, the scientists analyzed the data from almost 840,000 people. These data came from various American cohort studies. These included, for example, the Nurses ’Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study II and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
Higher risk of heart disease regardless of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure
The results of the new study clearly show that people with a history of gallstones are more likely to develop heart disease, the authors explain. However, it was particularly alarming that there was no connection with overweight, diabetes and high blood pressure. These are usually the most common causes of heart disease. So apparently healthy people are also at risk from the outside, the researchers add.
Many people are not aware of their increased risk
People with diabetes and other indicators of heart disease are usually aware of the risk. However, people with gallstones will not recognize their potential susceptibility to coronary artery disease, the scientists speculate. For this reason, those affected have to be better informed and monitored.
We need better medical surveillance
Our results suggest that patients with gallstone disease should be monitored more closely. "It should be based on a careful assessment of the gallstones and risk factors for heart disease," said Lu Qi, professor of epidemiology at Tulane University in New Orleans.
How do gallstones develop?
Usually the gallbladder is a small organ that, with the help of bile, facilitates the absorption of fats in the body. A build-up of gallstones can occur if, for example, there is an imbalance due to excess cholesterol in the bile, the doctors say. Most people don't know about their gallstones. However, if these have developed enough, the gallstones can cause severe pain.
We need to better protect and monitor our gastrointestinal system
The study clearly shows the intricate connections between different parts of the body. We need to be more careful about what we eat. With this increased attention, we can protect the health of our heart. In order to promote heart health, we should also protect our gastrointestinal system, emphasizes Professor Qi. (as)