Aims: Clinical experience suggests that atherosclerotic disease is common in individuals with coeliac disease, but epidemiological studies have had contradicting findings. To summarise the currently available evidence, we systematically reviewed and analysed observational studies of the association of coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis with coronary heart disease (CHD) or stroke.
Data synthesis: We searched for studies comparing CHD or stroke outcomes with individuals with and without coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis. Three investigators independently searched electronic databases, identified relevant studies and extracted data. Study-specific results were combined in random-effects meta-analyses, and heterogeneity was quantified using the I(2) statistic and meta-regression. Twenty-one studies were included in our systematic review and 18 in the meta-analyses. For CHD, the pooled hazard ratio for incident disease was 1.05 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.93, 1.19) and the overall standardised mortality ratio was 1.21 (0.99, 1.49). For stroke and brain haemorrhage, the corresponding estimates were 1.10 (95% CI: 1.00, 1.21) and 1.43 (0.97, 2.10), respectively. There was moderate to considerable heterogeneity among the study-specific estimates. In addition, many estimates were based on small numbers of outcomes and they had limitations in terms of adjustment for potential confounders.
Conclusion: Our meta-analyses lend some support to an association between coeliac disease and CHD or cerebrovascular disease, but the evidence base was heterogeneous and had limitations. Our systematic review highlighted a need in this area for adequately powered prospective studies with appropriate adjustment for potentially confounding factors.
Keywords: Cerebrovascular disease; Coeliac disease; Coronary heart disease; Dermatitis herpetiformis; Meta-analysis; Stroke; Systematic review.
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