Cardiovascular involvement in celiac disease

World J Cardiol. 2017 Aug 26;9(8):652-666. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v9.i8.652.


Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune response to ingestion of gluten protein, which is found in wheat, rye, and barley grains, and results in both small intestinal manifestations, including villous atrophy, as well as systemic manifestations. The main treatment for the disease is a gluten-free diet (GFD), which typically results in the restoration of the small intestinal villi, and restoration of other affected organ systems, to their normal functioning. In an increasing number of recently published studies, there has been great interest in the occurrence of alterations in the cardiovascular system in untreated CD. Herein, published studies in which CD and cardiovascular terms appear in the title of the study were reviewed. The publications were categorized into one of several types: (1) articles (including cohort and case-control studies); (2) reviews and meta-analyses; (3) case studies (one to three patient reports); (4) letters; (5) editorials; and (6) abstracts (used when no full-length work had been published). The studies were subdivided as either heart or vascular studies, and were further characterized by the particular condition that was evident in conjunction with CD. Publication information was determined using the Google Scholar search tool. For each publication, its type and year of publication were tabulated. Salient information from each article was then compiled. It was determined that there has been a sharp increase in the number of CD - cardiovascular studies since 2000. Most of the publications are either of the type "article" or "case study". The largest number of documents published concerned CD in conjunction with cardiomyopathy (33 studies), and there have also been substantial numbers of studies published on CD and thrombosis (27), cardiovascular risk (17), atherosclerosis (13), stroke (12), arterial function (11), and ischemic heart disease (11). Based on the published research, it can be concluded that many types of cardiovascular issues can occur in untreated CD patients, but that most tend to resolve on a GFD, often in conjunction with the healing of small intestinal villous atrophy. However, in some cases the alterations are irreversible, underscoring the need for CD screening and treatment when cardiovascular issues arise of unknown etiology.

Keywords: Cardiovascular; Celiac disease; Gluten; Heart; Vascular.

Publication types

  • Review