Association between inflammatory bowel disease and heart disease found

Researchers analyzed medical-record data from more than 17.5 million patients found that people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at increased risk for a heart attack, regardless of whether or not they have risk factors for heart disease. This research is presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 67th Annual Scientific Session.

“Younger patients had about nine times the risk of a heart attack compared to their peers in the same age group [who didn’t have IBD], and this risk continued to decline with age,” said Muhammad S. Panhwar, MD, a resident in internal medicine at Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Cleveland and lead author of the study. “Our findings suggest that IBD should be considered an independent risk factor for heart disease.”

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, as of 2015, an estimated three million Americans have IBD, and about 70,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.

Researchers utilized IBM Explorys, a database of de-identified data from electronic records for patients of 26 nationwide health care systems in the U.S. They then identified 211,870 patients aged 18 to 65 diagnosed with of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) between 2014 and 2017. Researchers then looked at the rate of heart attacks in the normal population and those with inflammatory bowel disease. Compared with patients who did not have Inflammatory bowel disease, heart attacks occurred roughly twice as often in those with Inflammatory bowel disease.

Researchers also found that people with Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) were also more likely to have diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and smoking than people without inflammatory bowel disease.  After adjusting for age, race, sex and traditional heart disease risk factors, Panhwar and his colleagues found that the patients with inflammatory bowel disease had about a 23 percent higher risk of having a heart attack. Women under the age of 40 with IBD were at higher risk for a heart attack than men with IBD in the same age group. In patients over the age of 40, heart attack risk was similar for men and women with inflammatory bowel disease.

“Our study adds considerably to a growing set of literature highlighting the importance of chronic inflammation in IBD as having a role in the development of heart disease,” Panhwar said.

Adapted from press release by the American College of Cardiology.