Many people think inflammatory bowel disease (or IBD) is a specific disorder, but the term is actually used to describe a group of chronic inflammatory conditions affecting the bowel (colon) and small intestine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell us roughly 1.4 million Americans have IBD, including the two most common forms: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Now, a new study has found a link between IBD and heart failure—and it all boils down to inflammation.
Scientists in Denmark recently analyzed the health data for more than 5 million adults collected over a period of 10+ years, comparing those diagnosed with IBD to “IBD-free” individuals. When they presented their findings at the Heart Failure Congress 2014 in Greece last month, they revealed that people with IBD have a 37% greater risk of hospitalization for heart failure—and that risk more than doubled during “flare-up” periods (during which symptoms are active).
Based on their findings, researchers in part attributed the increased risk to inflammation.
“We know inflammation may lead to an increased risk of thrombosis (a clot in a blood vessel), and some studies show inflammation in the circulation may also lead to vascular damage,” said Soeren Lund Kristensen, lead author of the study. In addition, he explained that an increased risk of anemia—also associated with IBD—may contribute to a decline in healthy cardiovascular function.
Study authors concluded that reducing “the inflammatory burden” may help promote healthy cardiovascular function in people with IBD.