People with celiac disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from heart disease as anyone else even if they don’t have traditional risk factors like obesity or high blood pressure.
So says a new study released recently by researchers from Cleveland Clinic. They analyzed data collected from 22.4 million adults between 1999 and 2013. A total of 24,530 were diagnosed with celiac disease, an immune disorder of the small intestine caused by eating gluten.
About 10 percent of celiac patients had heart disease, compared to about 6 percent of the rest of the population. For those not yet 65, 4.5 percent of celiac sufferers had cardiovascular disease as opposed to 2.4 of percent of the other patients. Celiac patients also had a slightly higher risk of stroke than the general population.
The study’s authors, presenting at an American College of Cardiology meeting, contend their research shows that chronic inflammation harms cardiovascular health.
“Our findings reinforce the idea that inflammation, whether it’s from an infection or a disease, can have an adverse role in coronary artery disease and heart health in general,” said Dr. R. D. Gajulapalli, co-author of the study.
The study was the first of its kind to look at the connection between celiac disease and heart disease. It doesn’t, however, prove a cause-and-effect relationship, Gajulapalli said, urging scientists to view the data as preliminary.
Sources: HealthDay and CardioSmart News