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Heart Risk: Tonsils, appendix removal
Published on 2 Jun. 2011 12:58 AM IST
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Surgical removal of tonsils and the appendix before the age of 20 is likely to elevate the risk of a premature heart attack. Tonsillectomy (removal of tonsils) increased the risk by 44 percent and removal of the appendix by 33 percent. The risk increases were even higher when both the tonsils and appendix were removed.
However, no risk association was evident when the operations were performed on people over the age of 20. Studies suggest that between 10 and 20 percent of all young people have their tonsils or appendix removed.
Both the appendix and tonsils are components of the body’s immune system, although of modest importance, the European Heart Journal reports.
“One might anticipate that surgical removal of the tonsils and appendix, with their consequent effects on immunity, might also have a long-term effect on coronary heart disease (CHD, narrowing of the small vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart), said investigator Imre Janszky from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute.
“However, we were aware of no studies evaluating the potential effects of appendectomy or tonsillectomy on atherosclerosis or CHD risk,” Jamszky added, according to a Karolinska statement.
The study examined the national health records of every Swedish resident born between 1955 and 1970 and identified each one who had had their tonsils and/or appendix removed.

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