More than 1.5 million Americans have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis , the most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Both conditions inflame the lining of the intestine, leading to bouts of watery diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal cramps and pain, fever and weight loss.
In an analysis of over 150,000 patients with IBD in nine studies, researchers estimated the risk of stroke and heart disease in patients with IBD, as compared to the general population. The results of the comparison pointed to a 10-25 percent increased risk of stroke and heart attacks in patients with IBD. The increased risk was especially more prominent in women.
“Gastroenterologists should be cognizant of this relationship and should focus on better management of conventional risk factors, such as smoking cessation, recognition and control of hypertension and diabetes,” says Siddharth Singh, M.B.B.S., a study author and Mayo Clinic researcher.
Risk factor modifications for patients with IBD include: working with a physician to manage the IBD, stress reduction , good diet and moderate exercise. Smoking is a major risk factor for IBD patients. IBD patients that smoke will benefit from a smoking cessation program.
“This topic was a controversial one with conflicting studies, so we hope this review resolves some of those issues,” says Edward Loftus, M.D., one of the study authors and Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist.
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