Inflammatory bowel disease significantly increases the risk of a heart attack in adults, but especially young adults aged 18-24 years, and in women compared with men across all age groups, according to data from about 200,000 IBD patients.

The odds ratio for heart attack in IBD patients vs. controls remained a significant 1.2 after adjustment for traditional cardiovascular risk factors, Muhammad S. Panhwar, MD, said in a media briefing in advance of the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

“Chronic inflammation has been recognized as having an important role in the development of heart disease,” he noted.

Although other chronic inflammatory conditions are associated with increased heart attack risk, the link between heart attacks and IBD has not been well studied, despite its high prevalence in the United States (about 3 million adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), said Dr. Panhwar, an internal medicine resident at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He and his colleagues reviewed a nationwide medical records database of 17.5 million adults aged 18-65 years for diagnoses of IBD between 2013 and 2017. Overall, 1.2% of the patients (211,870) had IBD, and most of the patients in the IBD group were younger, female, and white, Dr. Panhwar noted.

The relative risk of myocardial infarction was roughly twice as high in IBD patients as that of controls without IBD (5.9% vs. 3.5%), Dr. Panhwar said. That risk was highest in patients aged 20-25 years, with a relative risk of 20.5, occurring mostly in women, and decreased to 1.8 by age 60-64 (both P less than .001).

In addition, IBD patients tended to have a higher prevalence of common cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking.

The IBD patients’ higher prevalence of smoking – 21%, vs. 12% of the controls – is not a surprise, said Martha Gulati, MD, who moderated the briefing. Many people with IBD smoke, particularly those with Crohn’s disease, because it seems to reduce the number of flares, said Dr. Gulati, chief of cardiology at the University of Arizona, Phoenix.

The findings may be affected by the increased inflammation often observed in younger individuals with IBD and younger women with IBD, who may not present with traditional cardiovascular risk factors, the researchers noted.

“Clinicians who care for patients with traditional cardiovascular risk factors who also have IBD should recognize IBD as an independent risk factor as well, and treat appropriately,” Dr. Panhwar said.

Dr. Panhwar had no relevant financial conflicts to disclose.

SOURCE: Panhwar M. ACC 18.


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