CAD-Celiac2Ah ….celiac disease.  Could we have more health problems linked to our autoimmune disorder? Cancer, osteoporosis, infertility…now researchers are linking it to coronary artery disease (CAD).  

The research presented Saturday at the American College of Cardiology 2014 Scientific Sessions and published on Medscape, didn’t just link the two diseases — it actually reported people with celiac may have double the risk of getting CAD compared to others. 

Coronary Artery Disease and Celiac: Study Details

The study was large.  It looked at electronic records of patients from 13 different health systems.  This was about 22 million people.  Of that, about 24,000 had a celiac diagnosis.  The report says the rest served as controls. It found the prevalence for coronary artery disease for someone without celiac was 2.4%.  If you had celiac, that number increased to 4.5% in patients between 18-65. But for age groups younger and older, the doubling of risk was maintained.

One thing that wasn’t reported in the article was whether the celiac patients in the study were complying with their gluten free diet.  

Researchers also say the risk was maintained even if the celiac patients showed no other signs of traditional cardio vascular risk factors.

Why the link?

Doctors only mentioned that inflammation could be the reason.  “People with celiac disease have some persistent low-grade inflammation in the gut that can spill immune mediators into the bloodstream, which can then accelerate the process of atherosclerosis and, in turn, CAD,” Rama Dilip Gajulapalli, M.D. of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, explained in a statement to Medscape. “Our findings reinforce the idea that chronic inflammation, whether it’s from an infection or a disease, can have an adverse role in CAD and heart health in general,” he told the website.  

What’s next?

Jeffrey Kuvin, M.D. of Tufts Medical Center in Boston said inflammatory states like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease have already been linked to CAD “…so perhaps we can add celiac disease to this list.”

Gajulapalli wants physicians and other practitioners who are treating people with celiac to watch for cardiac diseases.

The Medscape report said “Further prospective studies are needed to confirm the findings.”  Also, any future research should look into if this also affects people with gluten sensitivity.


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