Heart disease risk in chronic kidney disease patients may increase with dietary phosphate

By: Emily Lunardo | Heart Health | Friday, October 07, 2016 - 12:30 PM

Heart disease risk in chronic kidney disease patients may increase with dietary phosphateHeart disease risk in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients may increase with dietary phosphate. Patients with CKD cannot excrete excess phosphate into the urine, so it accumulates in the blood. This accumulation of phosphate in the blood is a well-known risk factor for CKD, which raises patients’ risk of heart disease.

The researchers examined the effects of phosphate in the blood on cells and blood vessels. The experiments revealed that high phosphate levels trigger stress signals inside the cells, causing fragments of the cells to break off and form blood clots. Lead researcher Alan Bevington explained, “This is important because blocking of blood vessels by blood clots — a process known as thrombosis — is a common cause of injury and death, occurring in a wide range of human illnesses including CKD.”

Nearly all Western diets contain phosphate, and although the study showed the effects of phosphate in CKD patients, it could also be applicable to any person when phosphate levels get too high. “It’s possible therefore that the results of this study will also be relevant in other situations in addition to CKD,” the researcher Nima Abbasian concluded.

Added phosphate in foods may cause spikes in blood phosphorus levels, stress on kidneys

Our kidneys are vital organs that perform many important functions. Most people know that they remove waste products and excess fluid from our body, but they also release hormones that regulate blood pressure, produce an active form of vitamin D, and control the production of red blood cells.

Everything we put in our bodies has an impact on our kidneys, and researchers are saying nowadays we are consuming too much phosphorous.

Phosphorous is a mineral that helps repair tissues and cells. We get the amount of phosphorous we need through our daily diet since it occurs naturally in many protein-rich foods, including meat, eggs, and dairy. The problem is, some food companies add phosphates to the foods they produce as a preservative or flavor enhancer. Over time, this could be putting stress on the kidneys.

According to clinical research conducted at the Houston Methodist Hospital, an increase in the consumption of phosphorous in foods such as cereal, pancake mix, and quick-bread mix could have something to do with the increase in kidney disease incidence. About 13 percent of American adults have chronic kidney disease, which works out to 10 percent or 20 million more people than a decade ago.

During the study, three years of patient data were analyzed. Foods were looked at for phosphate content and blood tests were taken. Kidney function was tested as well. Researchers could see that most of the significant increases in blood phosphate levels were associated with consumption of the artificially added phosphate.

Lowering phosphate intake can reduce heart disease risk

An alternative study found that lowering phosphate levels in one’s diet may reduce the risk of heart disease. The researchers found that cholesterol plaque buildup – a risk factor for heart disease and heart attack – along the artery walls increases with phosphate intake.

Researcher Dr. Tim Chico said, “This is a very early, but exciting finding, as it suggests that by reducing the amount of phosphate in the blood we may have discovered a new approach to reducing heart disease. We´re now hoping to extend our research further and look into developing new treatments to help reduce phosphate levels in the bloodstream.”

Researchers recommend food containing phosphate additives be labeled

Some experts suggest that foods containing phosphate be labeled accordingly, so that consumers are able to reduce their risk of health complications.

Phosphate is found in many fast foods and excessive amount of phosphate has been linked to heart disease. Researchers suggest that the public be made better aware of the risks associated with phosphate so that they can make conscious decisions on what they eat and lower their intake of phosphate.

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