Heart disease is a top kMC900438743iller of women. Symptoms of a heart attack are not the classic chest-clutching tightness and pain than many men feel and because it presents in such subtle ways, 8.6 million women die from the condition worldwide every year. Another 8 million women are living with the disease and 35,000 of them are 65 years old or younger.  Preventing heart disease and finding ways to identify this killer early is on the top of the priority list for healthcare leaders around the globe and doctors in the U.S. have found one more potential link to the condition.

Kidney stones.

Yep. That’s what I said. If you’re wondering what a kidney stone has to do with your heart health, the answer will make sense when I explain it.

First, the study which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at 240,000 patients with kidney stones and found an increased risk of heart disease. But it was only for women. While researchers aren’t exactly sure what the physical link is, some believe those pesky hormones are to blame.

“Previous studies have indicated that they might be associated with other systemic disorders such as high blood pressure, diabetes or gout,” says lead researcher Pietro Manuel Ferraro, MD, of Columbus-Gemelli Hospital, Rome. “We observed that women with a history of kidney stones may be at a greater risk of developing coronary heart disease independent of other cardiovascular risk factors.” Dr. Ferraro says that kidney stones are very common, with about one in every 10 persons experiencing at least one episode.”–Prevention Magazine Online

Calcium and heart disease

Another factor comes from calcium. Most stones are made from calcium and it’s also part of the plaque that builds up inside the body’s blood vessels when heart disease develops. Despite all the research, doctors continue to warn women that no one single factor can identify your risk for developing heart disease. And just because you don’t have kidney stones, doesn’t mean you won’t develop heart problems later.

Healthy lifestyle practices and regular monitoring by your doctor are the best ways to prevent heart disease, but if this information can send up a red flag before a heart attack or stroke develops, that’s still pretty good news in my eyes.