British researchers at the University of Nottingham investigating the connection between Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and potentially life-threatening blood clots have released findings which suggest that the two may be more closely tied than previously thought .
Inflammatory Bowel Disease comes in two predominate forms: Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Both are considered to be incurable, and potentially fatal in extreme cases. Exact figures regarding the prevalence of IBD, much like those of more mild gastroenterological conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), are extremely difficult to calculate.
The current consensus however holds that in the United States and Western Europe, between 1 and 2 people out of every 500 suffers from some form of the disease.
After carefully studying the case histories of nearly 14 thousand patients with documented IBD, Dr. Matthew Grainge and his fellow researcher, Dr. Tim Card, believe that the evidence supports an eight-fold risk increase for the formation of blood clots in patients with actively flaring IBD as compared to the general population.
The frequency at which the IBD sample group developed venous thromboembolism , or blood clots, was compared to a significantly larger control population of more than 70 thousand non-IBD sufferers. They found that 139 of the roughly 14 thousand IBD cases developed blood clots, whereas only 165 clots were documented altogether in the entire control group.
What is the Connection Between Bowel Disease & Blood Clots?
While the statistical occurrence of thromboembolism in either group was not overwhelming, there is clearly a noticeable increase among the disease group.
The medical community has been aware of a connection between IBD and these deadly blood clots, the data does support the researchers’ novel theory that patients with inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, are even more at risk for thromboembolism while their conditions are in an active state.
What’s more, Grainge and Card believe that it could potentially lead to the use of anticoagulant drugs as precautionary measures while patients cope with the inevitable flare-ups associated with their respective conditions.
Dr. Matthew Grainge:
“Inflammatory bowel disease was associated with a roughly three-fold increase in the risk of venous thromboembolism. Compared with the general population while ambulatory, the risk of venous thromboembolism was increased about 16-fold for non-hospitalised patients with active inflammatory bowel disease… Tthese results suggest that active inflammatory bowel disease in ambulatory patients might be a far greater risk factor for venous thromboembolism than previously recognised.”
Dr. Grainge’s co-researcher, Dr. Time Card added the following recommendations for doctors of patients suffering from IBD symptoms.
Dr. Tim Card:
“We believe that the medical profession needs to recognise the increased risk in people with inflammatory bowel disease when assessing the likelihood of venous thromboembolism and to address the difficulty of reducing this risk in patients with a flare who are not admitted to hospital… Such strategies to achieve a reduction in risk might include those used for inpatients such as brief courses of low-molecular weight heparin or perhaps newly available oral anticoagulants.”
What Can You Do?
This is one of the first detailed studies into IBD and venous thromboembolism to investigate the fluctuation of risk in IBD patients who are frequently hospitalized for acute symptomatic outbreaks versus those who are able to keep the their conditions in check more or less on their own.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
- University of Nottingham. Bowel disease link to blood clots: New findings. ScienceDaily, 10 Feb. 2010.
- Asuka Ozaki, John R. Bartholomew. Pulmonary Embolism. Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education.
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