Background and Aims: Patients with inflammatory bowel disease have increased risks of cardiovascular diseases but the role of traditional and non-traditional cardiovascular risk factors remains unclear. We investigated if the cardiovascular risk profile differs between patients with inflammatory bowel disease and individuals in the general population.
Methods: We included a population of 108,789 participants from The Copenhagen General Population Study of individuals of Danish descent aged 20-100 years. The population included 1,203 individuals with prevalent inflammatory bowel disease (347 with Crohn's disease and 856 with ulcerative colitis). The cardiovascular risk profile was assessed by traditional risk factors (plasma lipids and glucose, body composition measures, and blood pressure) and non-traditional risk factors (inflammatory markers and biomarkers of liver and pancreas function).
Results: Even though patients with inflammatory bowel disease more frequently are diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases, traditional cardiovascular risk factors were not increased. Conversely, patients with inflammatory bowel disease had slightly lower plasma levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Levels of inflammatory markers, particularly high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, were higher in individuals with versus without a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease, when assessed at a random point in time during the disease course.
Conclusions: The increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in patients with inflammatory bowel disease may be linked to chronic systemic inflammation rather than to traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Further studies need to examine whether cardiovascular-preventive strategies should focus on optimizing management of inflammation in patients with inflammatory bowel disease rather than focusing on traditional cardiovascular risk factors.