More than 1.5 million Americans have these disorders, which are known collectively as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and cause the lining of the intestine to become inflamed.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic analyzed more than 150,000 patients with IBD in nine studies. They found that these patients had a 10 to 25 percent higher risk for heart attack or stroke compared to the general population.
The increased risk was stronger in women.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis lead to bouts of diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal cramps and pain, fever, and weight loss. IBD also has been linked to colon cancer.
This study provides more evidence that chronic inflammation within the body fuels cardiovascular disease. It also shows that those with IBD should get prompt diagnosis and treatment to keep inflammatory flares at a minimum.
They must also control any other heart disease risk factors and make sure their doctor monitors them for heart disease.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also causes similar symptoms and is sometimes mistaken for one of these other diseases.
However, this disorder is not inflammatory, and is not linked to an increased risk of heart disease or cancer.
Watch: See how scientists are also predicting future heart disease risk by seeing what is inside our gut: