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Heart Disease and Gluten Sensitivity

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.


Autoimmun Rev. 2008 Oct;8(1):44-7. 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 Dr. Peter Osborne

12 Responses

  1. Thanks for the article Pete. It’s crazy to think how much gluten sensitivity affects the most important parts of our lives. Can’t wait to share this with my clients.

  2. I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy 4 years ago…caused by…..ummm Nobody knew. I had been sick for years before the diagnosis and have been since. In April 2013, The local GI Doc. told me I had IBS and go figure it out. I found your site last week. As a disabled nurse practitioner, I am so damn hopeful.

  3. I can personally attest to the link being accurate. I have severe heart failure with several other factors (not going to list them all) two of which are pericarditis and cardiomyopathy. I was diagnosed at 38 with no cause listed. Fast forward to 44, found myself in the hospital again with more severe heart failure and a desperate desire to self diagnose. I was in overnight observation with severe symptoms. I figured maybe my childhood symptoms would give me a clue so I cross referenced them with my current condition and ran across a forum discussing related issues. Someone mentioned they went on a gluten free diet to try and rid themselves of water retention. Well I do have water retention so I figured why not give it a try. I stopped eating gluten and within hours my blood pressure began to respond to the medication. I’ve been gluten free now for a year and many of my symptoms (IBS, fatigue, blood pressure) have all begun to disappear with the exception of my blood pressure which still requires medication. 44 years of undiagnosed gluten sensitivity doesn’t mend itself in weeks. The process continues.

    1. I am in my 48, The same symptoms i had and i been rushed to emergency many times, they checked in me, do I have any heart or lungs or clot problems. They said all clear, and the symptoms i have is all about physic. what more I say, still struggling for a right diagnose.

  4. I have been gluten sensitive for over 10 years but didn’t realize the seriousness of it or its effect on my health…just now figuring it all out. I have been fatigued for years, get sick regularly and take a long time to recuperate compared to the rest of the family. I seem to never be full but never really wanting to eat until i get my hands on meat, chicken, seafood…then i pig out and i feel great!
    Unfortunately the last 3 months i have had irregular heart beat (PVC) and difficulty catching my breath. When i lean forward it helps and laying down complicates it so i sleep sitting up a lot. I have had joint pain for years in my calves, feet, neck, and hands with little to no labor. I know my Alkaline Phosphatase is high 138, Glucose high 98, RBC high 5.20, Hemotocrit high, MCH low, hs-CRP vhigh 5.3, Insilin high 18, Creatine high 1.04 BUT i can’t find anyone that evaluates the data or if it explains anything regarding my sudden PVS/breathing issues.

    What kind of doctor should i go to and does it explain my new symptoms? I feel like i’m just on borrowed time and waiting for a fetal heart attack!

    1. are you taking testosterone. because if you have taken it for 6 months to a year , it could explain a high hermatacrit level. (if it is over 50 I would go and give blood) which would drop the blood pressure and stop your blood from turning to sludge.

    2. Go to a functional medicine doctor. Also chinese medicine is a 4000 yr old science that actually works. It reverses disease and restores health rather than just putting a bandaid on a bigger issue. Find someone who looks for the root of the problem and not just a quick solution.

  5. hi, my mother was getting sick frequently. she will become pale, have problem breathing bloodpressure wil go done and so her heartbeat and saturation.. we noticed that this will happen after breakfast mostly. after a while we became aware that it must be the bread and other wheat produkts she consume for breakfast. we changed her diet for gluten free. and practically she does not become so sick. but lately she is getting the signs and symptoms I mentioned earlier not as drastic but I’m suspicious that it might be cross contamination with gluten products.
    Anny usefull info

  6. I had to take the 23 and Me test to discover my gluten intolerance after 17 years of dismissal and IBs. I had heart failure and terrible pain. The pain improved after eliminating gluten.

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