Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a pathological condition that first involves the gastrointestinal wall but can also trigger a systemic inflammatory state and thus extraintestinal manifestations. Systemic inflammation is probably secondary to the passage of bacterial products into the bloodstream because of altered intestinal permeability and the consequent release of proinflammatory mediators. Inflammation, through several diverse pathophysiological pathways, determines both a procoagulative state and systemic endothelial dysfunction, which are both deemed to be responsible for venous and arterial thromboembolic adverse events. The management of systemic thrombotic complications is particularly challenging in this category of patients, who also present a high bleeding risk; what is more, both bleeding and thrombotic risks peak during the active phases of the disease. The literature suggests that treating physicians have been, so far, more heavily influenced by concerns about bleeding than by the thrombotic risk. Despite the absence of data provided by large cohorts or randomized studies, the high risk of arterial and venous atherothrombosis in patients with IBD seems unquestionable. Moreover, several reports suggest that when arterial thromboembolism involves the coronary vessels, causing acute coronary syndromes, ischemic complications from antithrombotic drug undertreatment are frequent and severe. This review aims to shed light on the tricky balance between the ischemic and hemorrhagic risks of patients with IBD and to highlight how difficult it is for clinicians to define a tailored therapy based on a case-by-case, careful, and unprejudiced clinical evaluation.
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