Stomach Problems That Affect the Heart | How Does Heart Disease Affect the Digestive System

Man Suffering from Stomach Ache at Home | Stomach Problems That Affect the Heart | Featured

Did you know that the bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract can actually have an impact on your cardiovascular system? This is why it’s crucial to identify and understand the stomach problems that affect the heart.

Keep reading to know more about the relationship between the health of your gut and the health of your heart.

RELATED: 7 Signs Of Unhealthy Gut And How To Improve Gut Health

Stomach Problems That Affect the Heart | Gut-Heart Connection

Sick Woman Having a Stomach Ache | Stomach Problems That Affect the Heart

How Does the Gut Affect the Heart?

Female Doctor Holding Virtual Intestine in Hand | Stomach Problems That Affect the Heart

Your gut or digestive tract probably isn’t the first series of organs you’d consider when you think of cardiovascular diseases.

However, some bacteria in your microbiome won’t only disturb your digestive health but harm your other body systems, too. And that includes your cardiovascular system.

This is because the human microbiome is composed of trillions of microbes, including:

  • protozoa
  • fungi
  • bacteria
  • viruses

These microorganisms live in and on the human body. In fact, an individual has around 38 trillion bacteria living in their gastrointestinal tract.

Most of these bacteria are beneficial. They help in your digestion and stimulate your immune system to fight harmful organisms.

But an unhealthy gut may increase inflammation and lead to negative health problems since 70% of your immune cells are actually in your gut.

Then, when you have inflammation in your gut, the substances, and chemicals that shouldn’t leave your stomach, including those that are caused by bad gut bacteria, can go to your blood and anywhere else in your body.

This instance can cause damage to your blood vessels. And when your blood vessels are affected, they become stiff and lose their elasticity. They don’t function properly, which results in plaque buildup and atherosclerosis or the hardening of the arteries.

What Are the Stomach Problems That Affect the Heart?

1. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Woman Having Symptomatic Acid Reflux | Stomach Problems That Affect the Heart

GERD happens when the acid in your stomach flows back up into your esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach.

This backward motion can injure the esophageal lining and lead to heartburn. Additionally, it can narrow or tighten your esophagus, which can make it hard for you to swallow.

GERD may show symptoms that can range from mild to severe. You may experience either mild acid reflux at least twice a week, or severe acid reflux at least once a week.

Studies show that people with GERD are more likely to develop heart disease. They have an increased risk for the acute coronary syndrome, angina, and ischemic heart disease.

2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Woman Frowning in IBD Pain | Stomach Problems That Affect the Heart

The term inflammatory bowel disease refers to a group of intestinal disorders. These disorders are characterized by inflammation, swelling, or pain in your digestive tract.

The two types of IBD are:

  • Crohn’s disease: This condition causes inflammation to the lining, and even deeper layers, of your digestive tract.
  • Ulcerative colitis: This type produces tiny sores and inflammation on the lining of your colon or large intestine and rectum.

Both conditions generally involve:

  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • rectal bleeding
  • weight loss

IBD can be exhausting and even result in life-threatening complications.

Individuals with IBD have high levels of homocysteine, cytokines, and C-reactive protein. These substances can put patients at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

RELATED: 10 Silent Acid Reflux Causes

3. Chronic Constipation

Man Sitting on the Toilet Bowl | Stomach Problems That Affect the Heart

Chronic constipation is one of the stomach problems that affect the heart which is characterized by infrequent bowel movements. It’s usually described as having less than three bowel movements in a week over a period of three weeks or longer.

In this condition, stools are hard and lumpy, making them difficult to pass.

Constipation generally coexists with risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, the extra pressure you put on your bowel movement when you’re constipated can elevate your blood pressure. And high blood pressure can lead to heart disease.

Moreover, it can trigger the development of many cardiovascular diseases, including:

  • acute coronary disease
  • arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat
  • congestive heart failure
  • aortic dissection

4. Gastroenteritis

Young Woman Suffering from Stomach Ache at Home | Stomach Problems That Affect the Heart

Among the stomach problems that affect the heart, gastroenteritis is the one that’s typically referred to as “stomach flu” or “stomach bug”. This is because of people with this infection experience flu-like symptoms, such as:

  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • headache

Gastroenteritis is due to an infection in your gut. This infection may either be bacterial or viral.

Bacterial infections may be caused by:

  • salmonella
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)

Meanwhile, viral infections may involve:

  • norovirus
  • rotavirus

Parasites may also cause gastroenteritis.

Research shows that individuals who had gastroenteritis, specifically those who contracted the infection from drinking E. coli-contaminated water, are at a higher risk of developing hypertension or high blood pressure and heart attack years later.

This is why the study also underlines the importance of having a safe supply of food and water.

It’s estimated that around 120,000 gastroenteric illnesses every year in the US alone are caused by E. coli. This results in more than 2,000 hospitalizations and 60 deaths.

5. Peptic Ulcer Disease

Stomach Pain of Man Who Has Peptic Ulcer | Stomach Problems That Affect the Heart

This is a condition wherein painful ulcers or sores develop in your small intestine, esophagus, or stomach lining.

These acid-induced lesions are thought to be caused by diet or lifestyle factors. But a study reveals that peptic ulcers are due to either:

  • organisms or bacteria in your stomach, such as Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
  • excessive use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like naproxen or ibuprofen

These bacteria or drugs can harm the lining of your stomach. And when the lining is damaged, the inner part of your stomach becomes exposed to acid. This acid irritates the tissue of your stomach, leading to stomach ulcers.

Additionally, research links H. pylori, the bacteria that damage your stomach lining, to atrial fibrillation (A-fib).

A-fib is a disease characterized by an irregular heartbeat, which can result in blood clots in your heart. It can increase your risk of developing heart failure and other cardiovascular complications.

How Does Heart Disease Affect the Digestive System?

Doctor Is Using a Stethoscope for Patient Examination | Stomach Problems That Affect the Heart

Your heart pumps blood to all the organs in your body, and this includes your digestive system. However, heart disease can restrict your heart’s functions, which can affect your entire body.

Your digestive system receives oxygenated blood from your heart. But if your heart can’t send blood to your stomach as much as it should, issues may arise, such as nausea, diarrhea, sharp pains in your abdomen, or vomiting.

The same goes for your digestive system. There are stomach problems that affect the heart, too.

For instance, if the wall in your stomach is damaged, harmful bacteria may enter your bloodstream. This may cause heart disease.

This is why it’s essential that you talk with your physician immediately once you experience stomach problems.

Check out this video by TED-Ed to learn about how the digestive system functions:

Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death. And stomach problems have major effects on one’s health, too.

Your stomach and your heart may be two completely different organs. But studies have demonstrated that there’s a strong correlation between gastrointestinal disorders and cardiovascular diseases.

So if you want to improve your wellbeing, take note of these stomach problems that affect the heart. Look after your digestive system the same way you take care of your heart health.

How do you prevent stomach problems that affect the heart?

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