A number of research studies have linked gluten sensitivity to different forms of heart disease. The first study below discusses gluten induced autoimmune disease of the heart. The second study discusses how malabsorption of nutrients (in this case carnitine deficiency) induces cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle)…
Autoimmune Heart Disease
Acute pericarditis (inflammation of the sack surrounding the heart) can be caused by virus or bacterial infection, but 85% of the cases have an unknown etiology (cause). The common presence of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the fluid around the heart and antinuclear antibodies (ANA – a blood marker commonly used to help diagnose lupus) in the serum as well as new autoimmune disease diagnosis lead the authors of this paper to suspect that peridarditis itself is caused by an autoimmune process.
Nutrient Malabsorption Study –
An increased prevalence of CD in patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy or secondary cardiomyopathy and some other cardiac disorders has been reported. Here is described a case of dilated cardiomyopathy in a patient with CD and secondary carnitine deficiency.
Acta Gastroenterol Belg. 2010 Oct-Dec;73(4):530-1.
Gluten Swells and Inflames the Sack Around Your Heart
If acute pericarditis in the absence of infection is indeed an autoimmune process, then we should look to gluten as a potential progenitor as it is the only well known cause for autoimmune disease. There have been several associations between celiac disease and pericarditis in the medical literature to date. Some patients have had resolution of recurrent pericarditis on a gluten free diet.
Gluten Causes Nutritional Deficiencies
Additionally, it is well known that gluten induced damage to the stomach, intestines, and colon can lead to nutritional deficiencies through malabsorption. What is less talked about is the fact the gluten induced inflammation can increase nutrient demand in the body (to aid in healing) thus leading to nutrient deficit.
Not all patients with gluten sensitivity will develop celiac disease. Many studies to date have shown that celiac disease is simply one of many autoimmune diseases caused by gluten exposure in those with HLA-DQ genetic susceptibility. Are pericarditis and cardiomyopathy in the absence of celiac disease gluten induced manifestations? Possibly yes.
If you suffer from recurring pericarditis or a cardiomyopathy and don’t know why, have your doctor perform HLA-DQ testing to rule out gluten sensitivity, and have your doctor perform nutritional blood tests to make sure that vitamin and or mineral deficiency is not contributing to your disease
In good health,
Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior