Inflammatory bowel disease linked to higher heart failure risk

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A recent study conducted by the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has uncovered an increased risk of heart failure in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), lasting up to 20 years after their initial diagnosis.

Published in the European Heart Journal, this comprehensive analysis was part of the ESPRESSO study, which compared over 80,000 IBD patients to a control group of 400,000 individuals from the general population.

Inflammatory bowel disease, which includes Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and unclassified forms, was associated with a 19% increased risk of developing heart failure over two decades following diagnosis.

This statistic translates to one additional case of heart failure per 130 IBD patients during this period. The study highlighted that the risk persists irrespective of the specific type of IBD.

Factors such as age, lower educational levels, and pre-existing cardiovascular conditions at the time of IBD diagnosis were linked to the highest risks of developing heart failure.

Jiangwei Sun, the lead researcher from the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Institutet, emphasized the importance of this finding for both healthcare providers and patients.

The study’s results underline the need for vigilant cardiovascular monitoring in IBD patients to manage this increased risk effectively.

Further insights from the study revealed that when comparing IBD patients to their siblings who do not have IBD, the increased risk of heart failure was slightly lower at 10%. This suggests that genetic and early environmental factors common to families might influence the risk.

This sibling comparison helps refine the understanding of how much of the risk is attributable to genetics versus the inflammatory nature of IBD itself.

The research team, which included collaboration from Örebro University, Gothenburg University, and Uppsala University, also indicated an ongoing investigation into the potential causes of this increased risk.

The role of genetic factors, the impact of IBD medications, and the general activity of the disease are areas of focus for future studies.

Professor Jonas F. Ludvigsson, senior author of the study, stated that while it’s not clear if there is a direct causal relationship between IBD and heart failure, these findings are crucial for developing new guidelines for cardiovascular disease management in IBD patients.

The team’s continued research aims to provide deeper insights into how these factors might interact and lead to better preventive strategies for those affected by inflammatory bowel disease.

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The research findings can be found in the European Heart Journal.

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