People living with Crohn’s disease may have an increased risk of heart disease and heart-related complications.
Crohn’s disease is one of the two most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the other being ulcerative colitis. IBD is a chronic inflammatory disease associated with digestive issues and symptoms, such as diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain.
Crohn’s disease appears to have a negative effect on a person’s heart health. People living with Crohn’s disease may have an
This article answers several questions related to Crohn’s disease and a person’s heart health.
Living with Crohn’s disease can have an adverse effect on a person’s heart health.
A 2020 study examined cardiovascular risk in people with IBD — both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis — as well as a control group of people not living with IBD. They found that people living with IBD had an
Atherosclerosis increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
In a 2017 review of 10 cohort studies, researchers found sufficient evidence to suggest that IBD — either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis — is associated with an
Ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, involves a buildup of cholesterol in the heart’s arteries that can lead to reduced blood flow. This can put a person at higher risk for heart failure or heart attack.
A 2022 review of studies found similar results. The researchers noted that a person living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis has an increased risk of heart failure, atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases, and atrial fibrillation.
Several studies show that a person living with Crohn’s disease has a
In a 2022 study, researchers suggested that chronic inflammation associated with IBD increases the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. They also noted that people experiencing a flare of IBD symptoms may be at an even higher risk. However, the exact nature of the relationship remains unclear.
The researchers recommend that all people living with IBD, particularly those under 50 years, should get screened for risk factors associated with heart disease. This may help with prevention.
Evidence suggests that Crohn’s disease can increase the risk of blood clots in the veins.
In a 2020 study, researchers noted that inflammation associated with IBD can increase the risk of thrombosis (blood clots) due to the presence of more platelets and clotting factors.
They also presented evidence that improper nutrient absorption of the B vitamins can increase the risk of thrombosis. The increase in risk can also occur at younger ages.
Some studies suggest that chronic inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease may heighten the risk of heart-related events. This indicates that taking steps to prevent flares and manage the condition through medication and other therapies may help decrease the risk of heart disease or other cardiovascular issues.
A person may want to talk with a doctor about their individual heart disease risk factors. Common risk factors for heart disease include:
- high blood pressure
- living with diabetes
- high cholesterol
- infrequent physical activity
- smoking, including exposure to secondhand smoke
- a diet high in saturated and trans fats, salt, sugar, and cholesterol
A person cannot feel high blood pressure or cholesterol. They will need regular screenings to check their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
A person can help decrease their risk of developing heart-related issues with Crohn’s by taking the following necessary steps:
- eating less sodium (salt)
- eating a well-balanced diet
- getting regular exercise — at least
150 minutes per weekof moderate-intensity aerobic exercises
- stopping or never starting smoking
- following doctor recommendations for screenings
- following Crohn’s treatments and discussing changes with a doctor as necessary
People living with Crohn’s disease may have an increased risk of heart complications. Though several factors may influence this risk, chronic inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease may play a role.
A person can consider discussing their risk factors with a doctor. They can help develop a treatment plan and make lifestyle suggestions to help reduce the risk for developing heart issues.