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Does a Gluten-free Diet Increase Cardiovascular Risk in Celiac Disease Patients?

Celiac.com 07/10/2013 - Some doctors and nutritionists have expressed concern that a gluten-free diet might increase the risk of cardiovascular problems in patients with celiac disease.

Photo: CC--geishaboy500To get closer to an answer for this question, a team of researchers set out to assess changes of multiple cardiovascular risk factors in celiac patients evaluated before and during a gluten-free diet.

The research team included B. Zanini, E. Mazzoncini, F. Lanzarotto, C. Ricci, B.M. Cesana, V. Villanacci, and A. Lanzini of the Gastroenterology Unit at the University and Spedali Civili in Brescia, Italy.

For their study, the researchers undertook a retrospective analysis of the effects of 1-5 years of gluten-free diet on indicators of cardiovascular risk and on distribution in cardiovascular risk categories in 715 celiac patients.

Compared to baseline, those following a gluten-free diet showed significantly higher body mass index (21.4±3.4 vs. 22.5±3.5; p

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While on the gluten-free diet, they also showed significantly lower levels in serum triglycerides (87.9±49.5 vs. 80.2±42.8mg/dL; p

Interestingly, the gluten-free diet patients that the team categorized as falling into "lowest cardiovascular risk profile" fell from 58% at baseline to 47% during gluten-free diet, which may indicate some adverse effect of a gluten-free diet.

However, their final takeaway was that a gluten-free diet causes substantial changes to cardiovascular risk factors in celiac patients, but does not consistently point to worse or better risk profiles overall, which suggests that the diet is unlikely to contribute to the development of atheromatous plaques, or "hardening" in the walls of the arteries.

So, the short of it is that eating a gluten-free diet doesn't appear to create any added heart disease risk for people with celiac disease.

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2 Responses:

 
Christine
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said this on
15 Jul 2013 12:21:45 PM PDT
Talking to several celiacs who adhere strictly to a gluten-free diet, it would appear that they/we have lower risk of heart disease than people on a normal (whatever is normal!) Western diet. Like mine, their cholesterol is also apparently lower than average. I'm no expert, but fat absorption rather than fat itself is possibly the key to clogged arteries. Further studies are obviously needed, but I would tentatively suggest the gluten-free diet could be helpful for future research into preventative heart disease.

 
Carol
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said this on
17 Jul 2013 8:26:01 AM PDT
My 16-year-old son has celiac disease (2 years gluten-free) and had his first visit to a cardiologist this week. His gastro indicated that there might be a connection between the celiac and autonomic neurological dysfunction. This article makes me wonder even more that the celiac might be at the root of the heart/blood pressure issue.




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JaneWhoLovesRain, what is odder to me than that there is an older disease that Doctor's have forgotten that explains many of the same symptom's and doctor's do not even think about it today since the "War on Pellagra" was declared over a 100 years and why doctor's don't (at least in the West) think about it any more. Dr. Heaney wrote a nice online article about this topic. http://blogs.creighton.edu/heaney/2013/11/18/pellagra-and-the-four-ds/ Here is fairly recent article about how Pellagra can present in patients and the title says' it all from the International Journal of Dermatology. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227807440_Pellagra_Dermatitis_dementia_and_diarrhea Dermatitis, dementia and Diarrhea are the 3 D's (4th D is death) of Pellagra. Typically it is only diagnosed today if you are in a subset of the population like an alcoholic for example or you have a gastric bypass. See this article from the New England Journal of Medicine http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMicm050641 and despite all the signs of Pellagra (skin issues etc.) . . .. Pellagra in it native tongue (Italian) where it was first diagnosed was called "rough/sour skin" who knows that today??????? Very few I would venture to guess. The NEJM can only say they have "Pellagra-like dermatitis" it has been so long since any doctor's seen it they can't (with confidence) diagnose it clinically. But taking Niacinamide 3/day for 6 months can help alleviate your symptom's if indeed the DH of Celiac is the dermatitis of Pellagra being medically misdiagnosed. Here is a an article featured on celiac.com about why/how Pellagra can be confused for Celiac disease. https://www.celiac.com/articles/24658/1/A-Differential-Diagnosis-How-Pellagra-Can-be-Confused-with-Celiac-Disease/Page1.html Because they haven't seen Pellagra in 75+ years no one recognizes it anymore. ****this is not medical advice. I hope this is helpful. Knitty Kitty and I are the Niacin warriors on this board. See this thread where Knitty Kitty says Niacin helped the itching of DH. If that is so then it might help your DH (if you have it) and your GI problems too if they are caused by co-morbid Pellagra. see my blog post about where I say "I had Celiac Disease and Developed Pellagra" that talks about this in more detail. Again good luck and your continued journey and I hope this is helpful. 2 Timothy 2: 7 ?Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things? this included. posterboy by the grace of God,

I should say I am confused about how to interpret--- Does this mean celiac or no celiac? Thank you all---I greatly appreciate it.

KathleenH, I swear by MatteosPizza and they make National Delivery. I have been known to buy them by the dozen. https://www.matteospizza.com/ BellaMonica's is not a bad corn based crust. By not bad I mean "suprisingly good" that can be bought at most grocery stores. Here is there ZIP locator page to see if they are carried in your local area. http://glutenfreepizza.typepad.com/gluten-free-pizza/where-to-find-bella-monica.html I hope this is helpful. posterboy,

Hey all--have Hashimoto's and am being worked up for epigastric discomfort and IBS like symptoms--- My blood work had an IgA within the lower end of normal range, negative TTG, but weakly positive DGP. My endoscopy showed a "nodular" duodenum with the biopsy stating there was "reactive lymphoid hyperplasia"... I have a follow-up with the GI in 3 weeks. Wondering about any help?

DH wasn't linked to celiacs until 1967 from my research...