Epidemiology, risk factors and management of cardiovascular diseases in IBD

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IBD is an established risk factor for venous thromboembolism. In the past few years, studies have suggested that patients with IBD might also be at an increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. The increased risk is thought to be similar to the level of risk seen in patients with other chronic systemic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. The risk of developing these conditions is particularly increased in young adults with IBD, and more so in women than in men. Conventional cardiovascular risk factors are not over-represented in patients with IBD, so the increased risk could be attributable to inflammation-mediated atherosclerosis. Patients with IBD often have premature atherosclerosis and have biochemical and genetic markers similar to those seen in patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The role of chronic inflammation in IBD-associated cardiovascular disease merits further evaluation. Particular attention should be given to the increased risk observed during periods of increased disease activity and potential modification of the risk by immunosuppressive and biologic therapies for IBD that can modify the disease activity. In addition, preclinical studies suggest that cardiovascular medications such as statins and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors might also favourably modify IBD disease activity, which warrants further evaluation.

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