BY SHAHD ALHAMDAN
JEDDAH — A recent study in the Kingdom has confirmed subclinical dysfunction of the heart in celiac children compared to their normal counterparts.
The study titled “Cardiac functions assessment in children with celiac disease and its correlation with the degree of mucosal injury: Doppler tissue imaging study,” was conducted by a team of experts from the Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Madinah.
Celiac disease (CD) is non-inherent disease, where the patient has intolerance to gluten in grains, especially wheat. When people with the conditions eat food that contains gluten, it leads to the destruction of villi, fingerlike projections of the lining of the small intestine that helps absorption of nutrients.
According to Dr. Najat Alahmadi, consultant pediatric gastroenterologist and hepatologist and head of Pediatric Gastroenterology at the Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Madinah, malabsorption of nutrients in the intestine could lead to various health problems.
The study showed that the celiac disease-associated cardiologic disorders are a growing concern. It aimed at assessing the subclinical impact of CD on myocardial performance in Saudi children with CD using doppler tissue imaging (DTI).
Conventional two-dimensional echocardiography was performed among 20 Saudi children with CD as well as a control group of 20 age and sex-matched healthy children.
Alahmadi explained there is no statistics available about the disease in the Kingdom but is common among pediatric patients with insulin dependent diabetes.
“This research was carried out by a group of experts at the Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Madinah. Besides me, the group included Dr. Abeer Fathy, Dr. Hany Abo Haded and Dr. Marwa El-Sonbaty. We looked at the functions of the heart in comparison with the severity of the disease. The research was about cardiac functions in celiac children,” Alahmadi said.
She said parents would not be able prevent their children from getting the disease. “Yet, studies show that it comes like other autoimmune diseases such as diabetes or after viral infections,” Al-Ahmadi said.
When asked about the treatment for the disease, she said, “The only way to control the disease is a gluten free diet, which means no wheat or wheat products for life. Patients can eat corn or rye bread.”
Alahmadi said some of the symptoms of celiac disease include chronic abdominal pain, constipation, bloating, diarrhea, short stature and loss of weight, among others.
Celiac disease is more common in people with type 1 diabetes, autoimmune liver disease, thyroid disease, Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, or Williams syndrome.
Many people don’t know they have celiac disease. Researchers think as few as 1 in 5 people with the disease ever find out that they have it.
Damage to the intestine happens slowly, and the symptoms can vary a lot from person to person. So it can take years to get the diagnosis.
Since celiac disease tends to run in families, so it is always advisable to consult a doctor and carry out tests if any of the parents or siblings are diagnosed with the condition.