People who become infected with E. Coli have a higher risk of later on developing hypertension, heart disease and kidney problems, Canadian researchers wrote in an article published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal). The authors say their study underscores how important it is to have clean water and food, as well as monitoring infected people carefully. E. coli is the same as Escherichia coli.

Health authorities in America believe that approximately 120,000 people each year develop gastro-enteric illnesses from E. coli 0157:H7 infections. About 2,000 are admitted to hospital 60 sixty die each year.

However, very little is known about the long-term outlook for people with E. coli infection, the researchers explained.

William F. Clark, MD, professor of nephrology at Victoria Hospital, London, Ontario, Canada, and team set out to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney problems and hypertension within eight years of becoming infected with E. coli as a result of consuming contaminated water.

They gathered data from the Walkerton Health Study, which evaluated the long-term health of 1,977 individuals who had developed gastroenteritis from a tainted municipal water system in May 2000. The water had been infected with Campylobacter and E. Coli 0157:H7 bacteria. 1,067 of them became ill with acute gastroenteritis, and 378 went to see a doctor about it.

The researchers discovered that those who had developed gastroenteritis symptoms had a 1.3 higher risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure) compared to those who had not become infected. Renal impairment (kidney problem) risk was 3.4 times higher, and the chances of having a cardiovascular event, such as stroke or heart attack was 2.1 times higher.

The authors concluded:

    “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.

    These long term consequences emphasise the importance of ensuring safe food and water supply as a cornerstone of public health.”

“Long term risk for hypertension, renal impairment, and cardiovascular disease after gastroenteritis from drinking water contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7: a prospective cohort study”
William F Clark, Jessica M Sontrop, Jennifer J Macnab, Marina Salvadori, Louise Moist, Rita SuriAmit X Garg
BMJ 2010; 341:c6020

Written by Christian Nordqvist