• How often you use the toilet could predict your future risk of a heart attack and coronary heart disease, according to scientists in China.
  • People who had more than one bowel movement daily had a higher risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who went just once a day.
  • Bowel movement frequency was also associated with the future risk of type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The frequency of your bowel movements is associated with the future risk of multiple vascular and non-vascular diseases, a new study by Chinese scientists suggests.

Using data from the China Kadoorie Biobank, the researchers enrolled 487,198 participants aged between 30-79 years into the study. Participants were excluded if they had prior diagnoses of cancer, heart disease or stroke.

The initial baseline survey was conducted from 2004 to 2008, with the follow-up starting afterwards and lasting for an average of 10 years.

Bowel movement frequency was assessed at the baseline survey with participants answering the question: “About how often do you have a bowel movement each week?” The four available responses were: more than once a day, once a day, once every 2 to 3 days, or less than three times a week.

After a median follow-up of 10.1 years, the researchers found higher risks of ischemic heart disease (IHD), heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD) in participants who reported having more than one bowel movement a day, in comparison to the once a day group.

Alternatively, participants who responded less than three times a week were associated with increased risks of IHD, major coronary events (MCEs), ischaemic stroke and CKD. The results, therefore, suggest that low bowel movement frequency carries an increased risk of having a heart attack.

The researchers add: “Based on the findings of the current and previous studies, people with abnormal BMF (bowel movement frequency) should consider the possibility of undiagnosed diseases and be aware of the potential future risks of various health conditions.”

This study is published in BMJ Open.

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