Overview of Link Between Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Cardiovascular Disease

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Inflammation has been shown to play an increasingly important role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and in precipitating thrombotic events. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a systemic inflammatory disorder with a wide range of extraintestinal manifestations including a clinically significant increase in the risk of venous thromboembolism compared to matched controls in several studies. The data for the association between IBD and ischemic heart disease are less clear; multiple population-based studies have shown both positive and negative associations between the 2 conditions. While the systemic inflammation should theoretically increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel also potentially provides a cardioprotective effect in several ways. Patients with IBD typically enter the healthcare system at an earlier age and experience a lower incidence of obesity, hypercholesterolemia, and hyperlipidemia. Given the complex interplay among the proatherogenic, prothrombogenic, and cardioprotective effects, IBD should be taken into consideration as a nontraditional risk factor for cardiovascular disease in specific subsets of patients.

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