Disease activity in inflammatory bowel disease is associated with increased risk of myocardial infarction, stroke and cardiovascular death--a Danish nationwide cohort study

PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e56944. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056944. Epub 2013 Feb 15.


Purpose: Chronic inflammatory diseases have been linked to increased risk of atherothrombotic events, but the risk associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is unclear. We therefore examined the risk of myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, and cardiovascular death in patients with IBD.

Methods: In a nationwide Danish population-based setting, a cohort of patients with incident IBD between 1996 and 2009 were identified in national registers. Hospitalizations with IBD as primary diagnosis, initiation of biological treatment and dispensed prescriptions of corticosteroids were all used as surrogate markers for disease activity, with flares classified as the first 120 days after diagnosis of IBD, and 120 days after a new corticosteroid prescription, biological treatment or IBD hospitalization, respectively. Continued corticosteroid prescriptions or IBD hospitalizations were defined as persistent activity, and periods free of such events were defined as remissions. Poisson regression was used to examine risk of MI, stroke, and cardiovascular death using a matched population-based comparison cohort as reference.

Results: We identified 20,795 IBD patients with a mean age of 40.3 years that were matched according to age and sex with 199,978 controls. During the study period, there were 365 patients with MI, 454 with stroke, and 778 with cardiovascular death. Patients with IBD had an overall increased risk of MI (rate ratio [RR] 1.17 [95% confidence interval 1.05-1.31]), stroke (RR 1.15 [1.04-1.27], and cardiovascular death (RR 1.35 [1.25-1.45]). During flares and persistent IBD activity the RRs of MI increased to 1.49 (1.16-1.93) and 2.05 (1.58-2.65), the RRs of stroke to 1.53 (1.22-1.92) and 1.55 (1.18-2.04) and for cardiovascular death 2.32 (2.01-2.68) and 2.50 (2.14-2.92). In remission periods, the risk of MI, stroke and cardiovascular death was similar to controls.

Conclusion: Inflammatory bowel disease is associated with increased risk of MI, stroke, and cardiovascular death during periods with active disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / complications*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / mortality
  • Male
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications*
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology*
  • Risk
  • Stroke / complications*
  • Stroke / epidemiology*