Metabolic Syndrome Linked to An Increased Risk of Kidney Stones


The metabolic syndrome comprises a cluster of conditions that increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The American Heart Association estimates that more than 50 million Americans have the syndrome. Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas recorded the height, weight, and blood pressure of 148 participants who had never had kidney stones. Blood and urine samples were also tested for features of the syndrome.

Participants with the metabolic syndrome had highly acidic urine, compared with those without the syndrome. The correlation was independent of factors known to influence urine acidity, such as age, sex, and body weight. Uric acid stones are more difficult to diagnose than other types of kidney stones because they do not show up on regular abdominal x-rays, often delaying the diagnosis and leading to the continued growth of a stone.

Researchers have found that patients with the metabolic syndrome tend to have highly acidic urine, which increases the risk of developing kidney stones. Their findings suggest that the presence of an increasing number of metabolic syndrome features augments the propensity for uric-acid stone formation. In previous studies, people who were overweight or who had diabetes had highly acidic urine, which often led to the development of uric acid kidney stones.

The current findings indicate that people with the other components leading to the metabolic syndrome also have highly acidic urine. The association of highly acidic urine with elevated levels of systolic blood pressure, serum glucose, triglycerides, and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) — all features of the metabolic syndrome — has not been previously reported.

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(Source: Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 2007; 2:883-888.)

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