Several research studies have linked gluten sensitivity to different types of heart disease. The first study below discusses a gluten induced autoimmune disease of the heart. The second study discusses how the malabsorption of nutrients such as a carnitine deficiency induces disease of the heart muscle.

Acute pericarditis, which is inflammation of the sack that surrounds the heart can be caused by a virus or bacterial infection, but in 85% of the cases the cause is unknown. The common presence of inflammation of the fluid around the heart and antinuclear antibodies (ANA – a blood marker commonly used to help diagnose lupus) in the serum as well as new autoimmune disease diagnosis lead the authors of this paper to suspect that peridarditis itself is caused by an autoimmune process.

If acute pericarditis in the absence of infection is in fact an autoimmune process, then we should look at gluten as a potential trigger as it is the only well known cause for autoimmune disease. There have been several associations between celiac disease and pericarditis in the medical literature to date. Some patients have had resolution of recurrent pericarditis on a gluten free diet.

In addition, it is well known that gluten can damage the stomach, intestines, and colon and can lead to nutritional deficiencies through malabsorption. What is less known is gluten can increase nutrient demand in the body (to aid in healing) due to inflammation, thus leading to nutrient deficiencies.

Not everyone with gluten sensitivity develop celiac disease. Many studies to date have shown that celiac disease is simply one of many autoimmune diseases caused by gluten exposure strongly associated with specific HLA class II genes known as HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 . Can manifestations of pericarditis and cardiomyopathy in the absence of celiac disease be gluten? Possibly yes.

If you suffer from recurring pericarditis or a cardiomyopathy and don’t know the cause, contact us or have your doctor perform HLA-DQ testing to rule out gluten sensitivity. I use Kimbell Genetics for genetic testing in my office. Kimball Genetics is a national genetic testing laboratory specializing in DNA analysis for common genetic disorders that are preventable or can be treated. Also, you can contact us to perform nutritional blood tests to make sure that vitamin and or mineral deficiency is not contributing to your disease.


Autoimmun Rev. 2008 Oct;8(1):44-7.
Acta Gastroenterol Belg. 2010 Oct-Dec;73(4):530-1.

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