E. coli linked to heart attacks, stroke

Nov. 19, 2010 at 8:59 PM
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LONDON, Ontario, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Canadian researchers link a type of E. coli bacteria known as O157:H7 to higher heart attack and stroke risks.

Researchers at the University of Western Ontario/Lawson Health Research Institute in London assessed renal and cardiovascular disease in the eight years following an outbreak of gastroenteritis caused by E. coli and Campylobacter bacteria contamination of a municipal water system.

The study, published online in the British Medical Journal, found participants suffering acute gastroenteritis during the outbreak were 1.3 times more likely to develop high blood pressure, 3.4 times more likely to develop kidney problems and 2.1 times more likely to have a cardiovascular event -- such as a heart attack or stroke -- than those who were not ill or only mildly ill.

"Our findings underline the need for following up individual cases of food or water poisoning by E. coli O157:H7 to prevent or reduce silent progressive vascular injury," Dr. William Clark said in a statement. "These long-term consequences emphasize the importance of ensuring safe food and water supply as a cornerstone of public health."

Clark and colleagues used data for 1,977 adults -- of whom 1,067 experienced acute gastroenteritis -- involved in the Walkerton Health Study conducted after an outbreak of the illness in May 2000.

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