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Celiac.com 02/26/2003 - The subject of cardiology-related symptoms of celiac disease and celiac disease-associated cardiological disease has not been reviewed. So, here I attempt to summarize readings of research papers and abstracts of research papers dealing with the topic. My interest in cardiac related issues in association with celiac disease is related to a familial history of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which like celiac disease can be missed and some times before a person is found to have it he/she may experience an episode of sudden cardiac arrest, or syncope (fainting). End stage hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can look like dilated cardiomyopathy. Dilated cardiomyopathy has been associated with celiac disease. Celiac disease and Cardiomyopathy and Heart Failure A study of 642 patients who were candidates for heart transplant in Italy found that 1.9% had anti-endomysial antibodies (AEA) (compared to 0.35% of 720 healthy controls) and that 2.2% of 275 patients with dilated cardiomyopathy were AEA-positive (compared to 1.6% in the remaining transplant candidates) (Prati D, et al, 2002, Am J Gastroenterol 97:218; Prati D, et al, 2002, Dig Liver Dis 34:39). Although an association was found, there was no way to assess cause and effect. The AEA-positive patients and AEA-negative patients presented with similar cardiologic criteria and had similar 2-year post-transplant survival. Similar, but more limited findings were described in preliminary data (Curione M, et al, 1997, Lancet 354: 222). The authors suggest a study of whether a gluten-free diet improves cardiac function in such patients. A study in Italy found that 5% of 60 elderly (over 65 years) celiac disease patients died during the study due to heart failure (Gasbarrini G, et al, 2001, Gerontology 47:306). The authors determined that this was significantly higher than the non-celiac disease population, but dont give a non-celiac disease rate. Furthermore, 0.4% of 226 non-elderly adult celiac disease patients died with heart failure as the cause and this rate was not significantly higher than the comparable non-celiac disease population. Other cardiological symptoms and disorders were not assessed. Common Causes? In a case study, similar cellular changes were found in both the intestinal microvilli and the heart muscle of a patient who had both idiopathic congestive cardiomyopathy and celiac disease (Chuaqui B, et al, 1986, Pathol Res Pract 181:604). While this was a limited study and the molecular causes of each were not evaluated, it is an intriguing find. In another case study, a celiac disease patient also had recurrent hemoptysis and developed heart block (Mah MW, et al, 1989, Can J Cardiol 5:191). The authors hypothesize that there is a common cause of the symptoms above. The cause is undefined by the authors. Similarly, a patient who had chronic anemia, cardiomyopathy, and heart block but did not have digestive symptoms was found to have anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA), AEA, and anti-reticulin antibodies (ARA) as well as the typical celiac biopsy (Rubio JLC, et al, 1998, Am J Gastroenterol 93:1391). The authors found that after 1 year of gluten-free diet, blood tests and biopsy were normal and confirm celiac disease as a diagnosis; but they do not mention whether or not the cardiomyopathy and heart block resolved. Celiac Disease and Autoimmune Myocarditis In an Italian study, 187 patients, including 110 with heart failure and 77 with arrhythmias, diagnosed with myocarditis were tested for celiac disease (Frustaci A, et al, 2002, Circulation 105:2611). Thirteen patients had IgA tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTGA); all had anemia. Nine of the thirteen were AEA-positive; these patients also had abnormal biopsies. Thus, 4.4% of myocarditis patients had celiac disease (they compare this to 0.6% in the non-myocarditis population; this was statistically significant. Eight of the nine myocarditis patients with celiac disease had HLA DQ2-DR3, the other patient had DQ2-DR5/DR7. Five of the nine myocarditis patients with celiac disease had heart failure and were treated with immunosuppression and gluten-free diet. The other four myocarditis patients with celiac disease had heart arrhythmias and were treated with gluten-free diet. All nine patients markedly improved in cardiologic features and were tTG- and AEA-negative post-treatment (8-12 months) . Other Cardiologic Diseases Celiac Disease and Ischemic heart disease: In a report made in 1976, celiac disease was associated with a decrease in ischemic heart disease in 77 members of the Coeliac Society of England and Wales (Whorwell PJ, et al, 1976, Lancet 2:113). In another study with 653 celiac disease patients, the authors found no decrease in ischemic heart disease or stroke for celiac disease patients (Logan RF, et al, 1989, Gastroenterology 97:265). A recent study examined the risk factors for ischemic heart disease in dermatitis Herpetaformis patients (Lear JT, et al, 1997, J Royal Soc Med 90:247). The authors found that, compared to the normal population, dermatitis Herpetaformis patients had lower cholesterol, lower triglycerides, lower apolipoprotein B, lower fibrinogen, higher HDL2, smoked less, and were generally of higher social class. Pericarditis Dermatitis herpetiformis has also been found to be associated with recurrent pericarditis (Afrasiabi R, et al, 1990, Chest 97:1006). The authors found IgG, IgA, and complement in the pericardium, thus demonstrating similarities with the skin deposition of IgA in dermatitis Herpetaformis lesions. Summary While there hasnt been a comprehensive review by a celiac disease researcher, the research papers summarized here point to a correlation of celiac disease with cardiomyopathy, heart arrhythmias, and heart failure. The authors of the articles summarized here often point to a probable association of autoimmune disease in both celiac disease and related heart diseases. Glossary of terms: Cardiomyopathy: aberrant heart muscle structure. Congenital: non-inherited, usually referring to what is considered a "birth defect." Heart block: blockage of the conduction of the heart electrical signaling system which regulates the heart beat. Hemoptysis: spitting blood, usually due to lesions to the respiratory tract or voice box. Idiopathic: often used to describe something whose origin is unknown. Ischemic heart disease: heart damage due to insufficient blood flow to the heart (i.e., via the coronary arteries). Myocarditis: inflammation of the heart muscle. Pericarditis: inflammation of the pericardium, a sac which encloses the heart.
Celiac.com 11/15/2007 - There’s a large body of evidence pointing to the importance of a life-long gluten-free diet for people with celiac disease. However, following a gluten-free diet is not always easy. Studies show that only 50% to 75% of all celiac patients are successful in faithfully following their gluten-free diets. But until now, very little has been published that indicates why this might be, or offers evidence as to the best way to succeed in faithfully maintaining a gluten-free diet. Recently, a team of doctors led by Dr. Daniel Leffler conducted a study of the factors that are most important in increasing the success rates for people trying to maintain a gluten-free diet. Dr. Leffler is a clinical fellow in gastroenterology at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Leffler presented the results of that study recently at the 2007 American College of Gastroenterology’s Annual Scientific Meeting and Postgraduate Course. The results of the study indicate that support groups seem to have an important role to play. A team of doctors, dietitians, psychologists, and patients created a study questionnaire that included 155 questions designed to measure ten areas important to success in living with celiac disease, including the burden of the disease, knowledge specific to celiac, health care access, mood and stress factors, perceptions about adherence, reasons for adherence, social support, symptoms. Participants of the study were all found through biopsy to have celiac disease. A professional nutritionist assessed each of the participants for dietary adherence. Of the 154 participants, 76% were Caucasian women. Nearly 70% had at least a college-level education. The average age was 50, and they had followed gluten-free diets for an average of 5 years. Concerns over cost and changes in stress levels and shifts in mood were among the reasons that contributed not following a gluten-free diet. Being a member of a celiac support group (P=.008), the ease of eating gluten-free while traveling (P=.012), or while attending social functions were important factors in successfully following the gluten-free diet. Demographic factors like age, sex, and age at diagnosis had no bearing on successfully remaining on a gluten-free diet.
Gastroenterology 2002;122:881-888. Celiac.com 05/02/2002 - In the April issue of Gastroenterology Dr. Pekka Collin of the University of Tampere, Finland, and colleagues describe four patients with severe liver disease who were also found to have celiac disease. One of the patients had congenital liver fibrosis, one had massive hepatic steatosis, and two had progressive hepatitis without apparent origin. Three of the four were considered for liver transplantation. In each case a gluten-free diet reversed heptic dysfunction. The reasearchers then studied the prevalence of celiac disease in 185 adults who had already undergone liver transplantation. Eight of them (4.3%) tested positive for celiac disease, and it had already been detected in six of the eight prior to transplantation. Only one the the diagnosed patients followed a strict gluten-free diet. Of these eight patients, three had primary biliary cirrhosis, one had autoimmune hepatitis, one had primary sclerosing cholangitis, and one had congenital liver fibrosis. Additionally, one of the patients had autoimmune hepatitis and one had secondary sclerosing cholangitis. The researchers also noted that not all of patients with both liver and celiac disease showed symptoms of celiac disease, which suggests that the liver disease may not be caused by malabsorption. Dr. Collin suggests that it could be a "gluten-dependent immunologically induced extraintestinal manifestation of celiac disease." The researchers conclude that some cases of serious liver disease may result from unrecognized celiac disease, and patients with severe liver disease should also be evaluated for celiac disease. Further, dietary treatment in patients with both celiac and liver diseases may prevent progression to hepatic failure, even in cases in which liver transplantation is considered.