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  • Jefferson Adams

    Celiac Disease Almost Doubles Risk of Heart Disease

    Jefferson Adams


    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo: CC--theilr

    Celiac.com 03/14/2016 - Compared with the general population, people with celiac disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease (CAD), and 1.4 times as likely to suffer a stroke, according to a large retrospective study presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Scientific Sessions.

    Photo: CC--theilrThe data indicate that people with celiac disease might be at higher risk of CAD, even if they do not have standard cardiovascular risk factors, said co-investigator Dr Rama Dilip Gajulapalli of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.



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    His team is calling on primary-care physicians, gastroenterologists, and other healthcare practitioners to be "mindful of their celiac patients," and to "be on the watch for probable cardiac diseases."

    Higher risk levels were seen even in patients under 65 years old, and may be due to the gut inflammation that can damage the small intestine in people with celiac disease. According to Dr Gajulapalli, "low-grade inflammation in the gut…can spill immune mediators into the bloodstream, which can then accelerate the process of atherosclerosis and, in turn, CAD."

    These findings are important for people with celiac disease, and for the doctors treating them. They support the idea that chronic inflammation of any kind can have a negative impact on heart health. For people with celiac disease, this can lead to higher rates of CAD, among other complications.

    So, the takeaway here is for people with celiac disease to check in with their doctors, and to be aware of any potential problems.

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    I had 2 heart attacks (with 9 stents inserted over 9 years), low HDLs, anemia and cancer (carcinoma) of the small intestine. Through an endoscopy at age 60, my GI doctor said I had one of the worst cases of Celiac (later confirmed by genetic testing) that he had seen. Within 6 months on a gluten free regimen, my HDLs had increased from <30 to 50. My subsequent cardiac scans indicated improvement. The cancer scans are clear after 5+ years.

    It is important to get this info out to the medical community, which does not test for possible connections to Celiac disease.

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    Thank you. This information is informative and timely. My doctor is very interested in assisting me with navigating the 'celiac web', his son has also been diagnosed with celiac so we have a bond. It is a great discussion topic for doctors and patients.

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    I had 2 heart attacks (with 9 stents inserted over 9 years), low HDLs, anemia and cancer (carcinoma) of the small intestine. Through an endoscopy at age 60, my GI doctor said I had one of the worst cases of Celiac (later confirmed by genetic testing) that he had seen. Within 6 months on a gluten free regimen, my HDLs had increased from <30 to 50. My subsequent cardiac scans indicated improvement. The cancer scans are clear after 5+ years.

    It is important to get this info out to the medical community, which does not test for possible connections to Celiac disease.

    I had 3 heart attacks (13 stents 2008-2015) 2x2 Cabg 2010 2x4 Cabg 4/2016, low HDL's and my GI said the same thing about my Celiac disease. Worst case he had ever seen. Tested me twice. I was 54 when diagnosed with celiac disease. 54?

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    Thank you Jefferson!  Very interesting article. First time posting in this group and I have learned  so much in the few days I’ve been reading the articles!  I was diagnosed at the age of 52 and I’m 62 now!  Also have DH.  Since the beginning of this year I have been on multiple Antibiotics due to recurring UTI’s.  Gut is all messed up now and reassessing everything I eat!  I eat healthy, but have decided to eliminate Oatmeal and limit my Dairy, as it bothers me. Taking probiotics and Vitamin B!  Should get myself to my gastro doctor whom I haven’t seen in about 8 yrs.  Was trying to handle it myself.  Glad I decided to join Celiacs support group

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    10 hours ago, Guest Suepg said:

    Thank you Jefferson!  Very interesting article. First time posting in this group and I have learned  so much in the few days I’ve been reading the articles!  I was diagnosed at the age of 52 and I’m 62 now!  Also have DH.  Since the beginning of this year I have been on multiple Antibiotics due to recurring UTI’s.  Gut is all messed up now and reassessing everything I eat!  I eat healthy, but have decided to eliminate Oatmeal and limit my Dairy, as it bothers me. Taking probiotics and Vitamin B!  Should get myself to my gastro doctor whom I haven’t seen in about 8 yrs.  Was trying to handle it myself.  Glad I decided to join Celiacs support group

    Welcome!  Be sure to check out the forum.  We have many active members who know the ropes.

    While I think there might be a small correlation with heart disease and untreated celiac disease, I think our Standard American diet which is full of sugar (which might be the source of chronic inflammation),  is probably increasing heart disease in the general population.     If celiacs just switch from junk food to gluten free junk food, their risk of heart disease probably  continues to be high.  

    When I fractured my back doing nothing (osteoporosis as a result upon undiagnosed celiac disease), doctors thought I suffered a heart attack.  I had an extensive workup in the cardiac unit.  My heart is clear from disease.  So, I am not sure I agree with the article subject.  

    Get to a GI and get follow up testing.  Find out if your celiac disease is active or in remission.    All leading celiac centers recommend this care.  

    Edited by cyclinglady

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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