Celiac and Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

Celiac disease is linked to so many illnesses, I was not surprised to find out there is also a link between it and heart disease. Undiagnosed celiacs are most at risk, but that is even more startling because approximately 80% of people with celiac are unaware they have it. In the US, it is estimated there are 2.5 million people with undiagnosed celiac disease. Those numbers make me wonder how many undiagnosed celiacs there are in the world. The current world population is approximately 7,874,965,825. If 1% of the population is estimated to have celiac disease then approximately 78 million people have celiac disease, therefore, using the 80% unawareness rate around 63 million people are walking around with no idea they have it. Did I do that math right? Math isn’t my strong suit, so feel free to correct my numbers if I am wrong.

The following quotes are taken from an article found on healthline.com. Click the link to read the full article.

People with Celiac disease may have twice the risk of coronary artery disease.

Celiac disease has already been linked to arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, and possible heart failure. Now, a new study has found that people with celiac disease have almost a two-fold increased risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), compared to the general population. The study also suggests a slightly higher risk for stroke among people with celiac compared to their peers.”

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF), celiac disease is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. 2.5 million Americans remain undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications, according to CDF.

Dr. R.D. Gajulapalli, a clinical associate at the Cleveland Clinic and co-investigator of the study, said in a press statement, “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, coronary artery disease.”

I found another article on verywellhealth.com that talks about a study conducted in Scotland. This study also confirms that celiacs have a higher risk of CAD.”

“A 2008 study performed in Scotland that followed 367 people with celiac disease for an average of nearly four years after they were diagnosed found they had nearly twice the risk of people without the condition for so-called “cardiovascular events,” including coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke or heart attack.

Researchers believe you should pay close attention to this. Heart disease is the number one killer worldwide, and anything that increases your chances of having heart disease—including having celiac disease—is significant.”

For the average person, some of the risk factors for CAD (coronary artery disease) are high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, and obesity. The arteries get narrowed when plaque builds up in them. For celiacs, the risk factors are different.

What are the risk factors for CAD in patients with celiac disease? 

Inflammation appears to play a key role in the development of coronary artery disease, as it helps to jump-start plaque build-up in your arteries.

To read the full article on verywellhealth.com click here. This article also talks about the risks of celiac disease and A-FIB.

People with celiac disease (which is an autoimmune condition) have immune systems that have turned on their own tissues. This celiac-specific immune system response might, in turn, drive inflammation elsewhere in the body, including in the arteries that serve your heart. Recent scientific research on specific inflammation-driving cells produced by the immune system, and how those cells interact with plaques in arteries, seems to back this theory.

In fact, a 2013 study looked at adults just diagnosed with celiac disease and found they tended to have high levels of two markers of inflammation, plus test results indicating they had the beginnings of plaque build-up in their arteries. Some of these test results improved once the people had followed the gluten-free diet for six to eight months, indicating that overall inflammation had dropped.

So just having undiagnosed celiac disease nearly doubles your chances of CAD. I’m sure some of these people also have other risk factors, which would make the odds of them getting CAD even higher. I can’t stress enough how important it is to see your doctor if you have any of the symptoms of celiac disease. My blog post on what is celiac disease talks about many of the symptoms of the disease. To read my post click here. Also, keep in mind that people with celiac disease are often misdiagnosed with IBS or Lactose intolerance. I have written articles on both. You can search IBS or Lactose or go to “Learn about Celiac Disease” under Categories and find them.

Whether you have celiac or not, heart health is important. Quit smoking, stop or reduce alcohol consumption, lose weight if needed, manage your diabetes, exercise regularly, eat a heart-healthy diet, and reduce stress. The Heart and Stroke Foundation is an excellent resource, to help get you on the right track. Heart Risk & prevention | Heart and Stroke Foundation

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