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Does cardiovascular risk matter in IBD patients?

Cardiovascular and thromboembolic risks are increasing in the population as a whole and therefore also in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. Obesity is a worldwide challenge also affecting the IBD population, and a causal association with Crohn's disease may exist. IBD itself, particularly when active, is also associated with a significant risk of thromboembolic and cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction and stroke. Cardiovascular risk is also a significant consideration when using Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors and sphingosine 1 phosphate (S1P) receptor modulators to treat IBD. JAK inhibitors - such as tofacitinib - are associated with several cardiovascular and venous thromboembolic risks, including hypertension and alterations in lipid profiles - specifically, increased LDL cholesterol and triglycerides - which may contribute to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. S1P receptor modulators pose a slightly different set of cardiovascular risks. Initially, these drugs can cause transient bradycardia and atrioventricular (AV) block, leading to bradycardia. Moreover, they may induce QT interval prolongation, which increases the risk of life-threatening arrhythmias such as torsades de pointes. Some patients may also experience hypertension as a side effect. In this context, IBD healthcare providers need to be alert to the assessment of cardiovascular risk - particularly as cardiovascular events appear to be confined to specific patient groups with pre-existing risk factors. In addition, the potential for S1P modulator drug interactions requires a higher level of vigilance in patients with polypharmacy compared to biologics. Cardiovascular risk is not static, and updated assessment will need to become part of the routine in many IBD units.

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