People in Walkerton, Ont. who fell ill during an E. coli disaster show no elevated risk of heart disease after a decade, researchers have found.
The tainted water outbreak in 2000 killed seven people and sickened over 2,300.
The town's water was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the same strain implicated in this fall's gastrointestinal outbreak involving beef from XL Foods across Canada.
Researchers from London, Ont. previously found Walkerton residents affected by E. coli had higher than expected incidence of hypertension and chronic kidney disease. At the time, residents self-reported cardiovascular disease, but that was based on their recall.
To more accurately determine the 10-year risk of death and cardiovascular events like heart attacks, kidney specialist Dr. Amit Garg of London's Lawson Health Research Institute, and his colleagues compared 898 adults in Walkerton to a group of more than 11,000 residents living in the surrounding communities who weren't affected by the outbreak.
"This study provides evidence that the risk of major cardiovascular events was not higher in Walkerton in the decade following the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak," the study's authors concluded in Monday's issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
"This may be partly explained by active surveillance and treatment for conditions such as hypertension, which may prevent cardiovascular events."
Doctors closely followed affected Walkerton residents knowing that E. coli O157:H7 is notorious for damaging the kidneys and can cause high blood pressure.
Adults were followed for an average of 7.4 years, starting two years after the outbreak.