Celiac disease patients may face a higher coronary artery disease risk compared to those without the disease. The risk in celiac patients was found to increase twofold, compared to the general population. The study also revealed a slightly higher risk of stroke in celiac patients as well.
Coinvestigator of the study R.D. Gajulapalli, M.D., said, “People with celiac disease have some persistent low-grade inflammation in the gut that can spill immune mediators into the bloodstream, which can then accelerate the process of atherosclerosis and, in turn, coronary artery disease. Our findings reinforce the idea that chronic inflammation, whether it’s from an infection or a disease, can have an adverse role in coronary artery disease and heart health in general.”
Researchers examined medical records of patients from 13 different hospitals where 24,530 were diagnosed with celiac disease. Patients without celiac disease were the controls. Smoking status and diabetes prevalence were fairly the same across both groups. Celiac patients were slightly more inclined to have higher cholesterol, but less likely to have high blood pressure. Common risk factors for celiac disease include gender, race, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
There was a slightly higher prevalence of coronary artery disease among celiac patients. Dr. Gajulapalli added, “This is an important study because it highlights a specific patient population who might be at higher risk for coronary artery disease, even in the absence of traditional cardiovascular risk factors. We were surprised by the strength of the association, especially in younger people. Patients and doctors should be aware of this association.”
“Whether patients with celiac disease will need more intense risk factor modification like in diabetic patients with coronary artery disease will need to be studied,” Dr. Gajulapalli concluded.
Larger studies are required in order to confirm the findings as well as examine how the severity of celiac disease affects the risk of coronary artery disease.
An alternative study uncovered that celiac patients may be at an increased risk for ischemic heart disease, even if the patients lack traditional risk factors for the condition.
Biopsies of the small intestine were taken from patients in Sweden to help establish celiac disease diagnosis. Researchers also used the Swedish cardiac care register SWEDEHEART to identify patients with ischemic heart disease. Celiac disease patients were compared to the general population.
Researchers identified 1,075 celiac disease patients and 4,412 ischemic heart disease patients. Celiac disease patients with myocardial infarction had lower body mass index and cholesterol and were less likely to be active smokers.
The researchers concluded that although there is an increased risk for ischemic heart disease in celiac patients, they have a more favorable cardiac risk profile, compared to ischemic heart disease patients without celiac disease.