Gallstones are associated with carotid atherosclerosis


Nahum Méndez-Sánchez, MD, PhD, Departments of Biomedical Research, Gastroenterology & Liver Unit, Medica Sur Clinic & Foundation, Puente de Piedra 150, Col. Toriello Guerra, Mexico City, Mexico
Tel: +525 55606 6222, ext. 4215
Fax: +525 55666 4031 and 55606 1651


Background/Aims: Gallstone disease (GD) and cardiovascular disease (CD) are common diseases worldwide with considerable economical impact and they are strongly associated. Carotid atherosclerosis is an excellent marker of risk for CD like stroke and myocardial infarction. The aim of this study was to assess the association between gallstones and carotid atherosclerosis.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted. We evaluated subjects with ultrasonographical evidence of GD and asymptomatic subjects without such evidence. Anthropometric, clinical and biochemical variables were collected. The Metabolic syndrome was evaluated using adult treatment panel III criteria. Carotid artery intima–media thickness (CIMT) was determined by a standard ultrasound protocol. Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) serum levels were measured in all subjects.

Results: We studied 191 subjects: 62 subjects with GD (53.2% males) and 129 asymptomatic subjects without GD (65.9% males). Subjects with GD exhibited a higher body mass index, body fat percent, insulin serum levels and CIMT (P<0.05 for all). The prevalence of GD was higher in subjects with a CIMT>0.75 independently of other factors [odds ratio (OR) 2.12, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04–4.34; P=0.039], and for every 0.1 mm increase in CIMT the independent probability to be a case of GD increased by a factor of 1.25 (95% CI 1.02–1.53; P=0.027). IGF-1 levels did not differ among groups.

Conclusions: Subjects with GD exhibit greater carotid atherosclerosis, and therefore have a higher risk for stroke and myocardial infarction.