Bone loss may be a sign of poor heart health in patients on dialysis, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky. The study, "High Parathyroid Hormone Level and Osteoporosis Predict Progression of Coronary Artery Calcification in Patients on Dialysis," appears in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).

To identify patients at high risk for progression of coronary artery calcification, Hartmut Malluche, MD, FACP and his colleagues conducted tests to analyze abnormalities in blood, bone, and heart vessels in 213 patients on dialysis over a one-year period.

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“We discovered that high parathyroid hormone and the consequential bone loss are major risk factors for progression of vascular calcifications,” said Malluche. “These two factors were heretofore not appreciated and were independent from traditional known risk factors.”

Malluche said  that there may be important links between the calcification levels in bones and those in blood vessels. “Studies need to be done to find out whether prevention of bone loss will reduce progression of vascular calcifications,” he said.

Study co-authors include Gustav Blomquist, MD, Marie-Claude Monier-Faugere, MD, Thomas Cantor, and Daniel Davenport, PhD.