Celiac Disease Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Disease

A new study has discovered a link between celiac disease and heart disease, a previously unknown relationship that will likely change the way doctors treat celiac patients. The study found that those people with celiac disease—even people under 65 years—were at increased risk of developing coronary artery disease when compared to controls.

While these findings were surprising to the researchers, they do not surprise me at all. The gut is the foundation for overall health. When digestion is not optimal, inflammation usually results, which moves from the digestive tract into systemic circulation and can affect all areas of the body. I have been talking about this gut connection for many years now. I’m glad to see that scientists are also coming to the same conclusions. (Better late than never, right?)

“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,” noted R.D. Gujulapalli, MD, co-author of the study. “Our findings reinforce the idea that chronic inflammation, whether it’s from an infection or a disease, can have an adverse role in coronary artery disease and heart health in general.”

This gentleman could not be more correct. He’s talking about the gut connection to chronic disease. And I want you to know that it’s not just celiac disease that works by this mechanism. Gluten sensitivity, a celiac-disease precursor of sorts, produces a similar effect. So does gut bacterial imbalance, which is present in many different digestive conditions and even present in people who think their digestive health is fantastic.

The people in the study were at increased risk for heart disease even when they did not have other markers of poor heart health. “Patients and doctors should be aware of this association,” they stated. Celiac disease affects one in 133 people, but up to 80 percent of them do not know they have it. Four times more people have celiac today than they did just 50 years ago. The researchers recommend that people with celiac disease should maintain a healthy lifestyle and be aware of cardiovascular risk factors that may arise.