Bowel Woes Linked to Heart Troubles

Active bowel diseases were linked to higher rates of heart attack and stroke

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can be painful and interfere with a good quality of life. Recent research suggests that IBD symptoms may also be linked to heart health.

Researchers found that when symptoms were active, IBD patients had two times the risk of having a stroke and a 50 percent greater risk of having a heart attack compared to those without IBD. When IBD symptoms were absent, these risks were not higher for patients.

The authors concluded that cardiovascular health may be at risk when people have active IBD symptoms, and treatments to improve IBD symptoms may be important for heart health.

"Talk to your doctor about any stomach symptoms."

IBD includes disorders like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD is characterized by inflammation in the intestines that can cause painful stomach and bowel symptoms, including diarrhea and constipation.

People with IBD experience periods of active symptoms and periods of symptom inactivity.

The study, led by Søren Lund Kristensen, MD, of the Department of Cardiology at Copenhagen University in Denmark, used data from the Danish national registry, which contains health records for people all over Denmark.

Records of 20,795 people who had IBD were compared to the records of 199,978 people without IBD. Patients’ average age was 40 years old.

The medical records covered a period of 13 years for each patient. The researchers compared the risk for heart attack, stroke and death from heart attack or stroke for people with IBD and those without.

When patients had active IBD symptoms, the risk of heart attack was almost 50 percent higher than the risk for people without IBD.

Having active IBD symptoms more than doubled the risk for stroke and death from heart attack or stroke.

During periods when patients did not have active symptoms, patients with IBD had the same risks as people without IBD.

The authors concluded that, during active IBD, patients may be at increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

The researchers said, “The results suggest that effective treatment of IBD aimed at disease remission may reduce cardiovascular risk in these patients, and that treatment strategies for atherothrombotic risk reduction during periods of IBD activity should be explored.”

This study was published February 15 in PloS One. The study was funded by Copenhagen University and foundations of Eva and Henry Fränkel and Snedkermester Sophus Jacobsen. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 26, 2013
Last Updated:
August 15, 2013