Small increases in phosphorus mean higher risk of heart disease

Nov 05, 2009

Higher levels of phosphorus in the blood are linked to increased calcification of the coronary arteries— a key marker of heart disease risk, according to a study in an upcoming issue of Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN).

"This may help to explain why even early-stage (CKD) is associated with increased cardiovascular risk that is not otherwise explained by traditional risk factors," comments Katherine R. Tuttle, MD (Providence Medical Research Center, Spokane, WA).

The study looked at the relationship between phosphorus levels and coronary artery calcification (CAC) in nearly 900 healthy adults from the Spokane Heart Study, a long-term study of heart disease risk factors. Previous studies have linked CAC—an early sign of atherosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries")—to an increased risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) and other . At the start of the study, 28 percent of the participants had CAC.

After six years' follow-up, another 33 percent of participants had developed CAC. For those who already had CAC, the level of CAC increased during follow-up.

The relationship between phosphorus levels and CAC remained significant even after adjustment for other factors. "Even small increases in the blood level of phosphorus predicted an increased risk of progressive CAC in these apparently healthy adults," says Tuttle. The phosphorus-related increase in CAC was comparable to that seen with traditional heart disease risk factors like and high cholesterol.

In addition, participants with lower levels of kidney function—even if not below the normal range—were more likely to have progressive CAC. Recent studies have linked higher phosphorus levels to increased CAC in patients with CKD as well.

"Our results may help explain why even early-stage CKD is associated with increased cardiovascular risk that is not explained by traditional risk factors," says Tuttle. More research will be needed to see if treatments to lower phosphorus levels can reduce heart disease risk in people with early-stage CKD, or even those without CKD who have CAC."

The study had some important limitations, including the use of estimated kidney function levels. In addition, it did not address several factors that can affect phosphorus levels, such as parathyroid hormone and vitamin D.

More information: The study, "Longitudinal Relationships among Coronary Artery Calcification, Serum Phosphorus, and Kidney Function," will appear in an upcoming issue of CJASN and online at http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/ on November 5, doi: 10.2215/CJN.01250209

Source: American Society of Nephrology (news : web)

Explore further: Leprosy: Myanmar struggles with ancient scourge

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

High-normal phosphate levels linked to early atherosclerosis

Nov 13, 2008

Healthy adults with higher levels of phosphate in the blood are more likely to have increased levels of calcium in the coronary arteries—a key indicator of atherosclerosis and future cardiovascular disease risk, reports ...

Low thyroid function common in chronic kidney disease

Jun 11, 2008

Many patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have mild reductions in thyroid function, or subclinical hypothyroidism—a condition that becomes more common as kidney function declines, according to a study in the September ...

Recommended for you

Leprosy: Myanmar struggles with ancient scourge

2 hours ago

High in the hills of Myanmar's war-torn borderlands, a clutch of new leprosy cases among communities virtually cut off from medical help is a sign that the country's battle with the ancient disease is far from over.

New analysis questions use of acute hemodialysis treatment

16 hours ago

A common approach to treating kidney failure by removing waste products from the blood did not improve survival chances for people who suddenly developed the condition, in an analysis led by experts at the University of Pittsburgh ...

WHO: West Africa Ebola death toll rises to 1,350 (Update)

16 hours ago

Riot police and soldiers acting on their president's orders used scrap wood and barbed wire to seal off 50,000 people inside their Liberian slum Wednesday, trying to contain the Ebola outbreak that has killed ...

User comments : 0