June 5 (UPI) -- Gall bladder removal could lower cardiovascular disease risk -- and stroke risk -- for gallstone patients, researchers in Taiwan report.
Stroke risk fell by 36 percent after people with gallstones had their gall bladders removed, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. The decrease in risk was consistent across all age groups and regardless of medication conditions, researchers said.
The new findings align with a previous study by the same researchers showing that gallstone disease can increase risk for stroke by nearly one-third.
"Gallstones and stroke are common diseases worldwide," researchers wrote in the study. "The relationship between gallstones and stroke has been documented in the literature."
For the new study, researchers analyzed data from Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database on 310,712 gallstone patients collected between 2000 and 2012, dividing patient profiles between those that had their gall bladders removed and those that did not.
Among those who suffered strokes, 19,096 gallstone patients had surgery and 11,913 didn't.
Patients who had gallstones removed saw a significant decrease in overall stroke risk, but researchers found that risk dropped even further when the gall bladder was removed.
Gallstone disease is a common condition affecting up to 25 million people in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health. A risk factor for the disease can be obesity or losing weight too fast.
The shared risk factors for both gallstone disease and cardiovascular disease include age, obesity, BMI, diabetes, hypertension, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.
"Preventive measures for stroke may be considered for gallstone patients, particularly those presenting with risk factor(s) for stroke," the authors wrote.