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Elderly Show more Celiac Disease, Vague Symptoms, Rising Rates

Celiac.com 07/24/2009 - Celiac disease is a common disorder affecting more than one percent of the population in the Western world. The condition is often assumed to affect children and young adults, and traditional celiac disease research has focused on the development of the disease in in those populations, and on the basic mechanisms at play over the lifetime of the disease.

However, researchers recently showed a high number of both diagnosed and undetected celiac disease cases among elderly people. Currently, scientists know very little about the appearance of celiac disease in elderly people.

A team of researchers based in Finland recently set out to examine the increasing prevalence and high incidence of celiac disease among the elderly. The research team was made up of Anitta Vilppula, Katri Kaukinen, Liisa Luostarinen, Ilkka Krekelä, Heikki Patrikainen, Raisa Valve, Markku Mäki and Pekka Collin.

The team evaluated the prevalence of celiac disease in people over 55 years of age, and assessed the incidence of biopsy-proven celiac disease (CDb) and celiac disease including seropositive subjects for anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (CDb+s).

The team based their study on celiac disease prevalence figures in 2815 randomly selected subjects who had undergone a clinical examination and serologic screening for celiac disease in 2002.

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A second screening in the same population was carried out in 2005, comprising now 2216 individuals. The team confirmed positive tissue transglutaminase antibodies results with small bowel biopsy.

Over a three year period, the prevalence of CDb increased from 2.13 to 2.34%, and that of CDb+s from 2.45 to 2.70%. 

Five new cases emerged from five previously seronegative patients; two showed minor abdominal symptoms and three were asymptomatic. Celiac disease incidence in 2002–2005 was 0.23%, for an annual incidence of 0.08%.

It's unclear whether the number of undetected cases in the elderly is due to diagnostic delay, or to the development of celiac disease at a more advanced age, or both.

In closing, elderly people showed higher rates of celiac disease, but with subtle symptoms. Repeated screening detected five biopsy-proven cases in three years, indicating that the disorder may arise late, even among the elderly. The researchers are therefor recommending that doctors treating elderly patients employ an increased alertness as to the possible presence of celiac disease.

BMC Gastroenterology 2009, 9:49

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1 Response:

 
lance Wingfield
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said this on
02 Aug 2009 9:19:02 AM PDT
Excellent/informative article. I was diagnosed at age 61 via blood test. Symptoms included indigestion following ingestion of wheat products. Subsequent bone density test also indicated bone loss - all reversed by stringent adherence to gluten free diet / Fosamax tablets




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We have gone gluten free, our whole house, as of a month ago. It was pretty seamless since I had been gluten-free for 5 months last year. I have found many good recipes, and my picky husband and one of my boys who is also a picky eater, even prefer many gluten-free recipes to the regular ones. My husband did see my point about the size of the gluten protein means nothing. Its a gluten protein period, that's what you are avoiding. It doesn't matter if its hiding in the scratch of your baking sheet and you can't see it. You can't see the wind, but it's still there. I hear you on the anemia. I've been anemic for several years, I just thought it as because I was getting a little older. Has your anemia gone away or do you still have problems with it?

Ennis, it is made out of metal, coated with plastic I think. You have such a hard time, my heart really hurts for you. But you are such a support to those on this board, and a great teacher for those of us who are new.

Thanks everyone! I think its hard for people to fully accept because they cant see the damage it does every time you get glutened. It's invisible. Im glad to know I wasnt being paranoid. I sure was when I was first diagnosed. I laugh at myself now, but its a pretty steep learning curve.

FYI......anxiety is a common symptom with celiac disease and NCGI. It seems to resolve on a gluten-free diet. ?

Yes, I will definitely update you and would love to hear what your experience is. I'm glad I found this forum because you're right--it's nice to not feel so alone. I'm also prone to anxiety--so waiting and worrying is not fun! Cyclinglady, thanks for sharing your experience as well. I do plan to maintain a gluten-free diet for a while at least if the biopsy is negative just to see how I feel.