Celiac Disease and Risk of Atrial Fibrillation: A Meta-analysis and Systematic Review

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Introduction Several studies have found celiac disease may be associated with a variety of cardiac manifestations. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is one of the most common arrhythmias that can cause significant morbidity. However, the risk of atrial fibrillation in patients with celiac disease according to epidemiological studies remains unclear. The aim of this meta-analysis study is to assess the risk of atrial fibrillation in patients diagnosed with celiac disease compared to controls. Methods A systematic literature review was conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane databases from inception through December 2017 to identify studies that evaluated the risk of atrial fibrillation in patients with celiac disease. We included randomized controlled trial, cross sectional and cohort studies that reported the odds ratio, relative risk, hazard ratio, and standardized incidence ratio comparing the risk of developing atrial fibrillation among patients with celiac disease, versus patients without celiac disease as control. The Newcastle-Ottawa scale was used to determine the quality of the studies. Effect estimates from individual studies were extracted and combined using random-effect, generic inverse variance method of DerSimonian and Laird. Results Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition. This inflammatory state predisposes patients to develop AF. After a review of the literature, four observational studies with a total of 64,397 participants were enrolled. The association between celiac disease and increased risk of atrial fibrillation was significant, with a pooled OR of 1.38 (95% CI: 1.01-1.88). No publication bias as assessed by the funnel plots and Egger's regression asymmetry test with p = 0.54. However, the heterogeneity of the included studies was high (I2 = 96). Conclusion A significant association between celiac disease and risk of atrial fibrillation was reported in this study. There is a 38% increased risk of atrial fibrillation. Additional studies are needed to clarify the mechanistic link between atrial fibrillation and celiac disease. Some of the limitations of this study are that all were observational studies, some were medical registry-based and there was high heterogeneity between studies.