Liver Disease Takes Toll on the Heart

When it comes to developing heart disease, patients who have non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) liver disease are at greater risk of both cardiovascular illness and death than patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease a UK team reported today at the International Liver Congress in Vienna, Austria.

When it comes to developing heart disease, patients who have non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are at greater risk of both cardiovascular illness and death than patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD, a UK team reported today at the 2015 International Liver Congress in Vienna, Austria.

Jake Mann, MD, of the department of pediatrics at the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK and colleagues reported on a cohort of almost 1 million UK residents.

“Inflammation changes blood clotting and that could be having an effect,” Mann said, presenting the results at a news conference April 24. Also some of the conditions that lead to liver disease are also risk factors for cardiovascular problems.

The team found that the chance of dying from (NASH), over a 14-year period, was approximately 50% higher than for those with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Researchers analysed the overall burden of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality across the spectrum of NAFLD.

Presenting the results at a news conference this morning, Mann noted that the stages of NAFLD are steatosis (or simple fatty liver), NASH, fibrosis and cirrhosis.

Using data from a computerized registry of hospital patients, the researchers identified with NAFLD, NASH and NAFLD cirrhosis throughout the study period. The team coded patients’ cardiovascular co-morbidities to analyse their prevalence over a 14-year period.

In all, 2,701 patients were diagnosed with NAFLD-spectrum conditions: 1,294 with NAFLD, 122 with NASH and 1,285 with cirrhosis. All-cause mortality was higher in people with NASH than NAFLD (22.1% vs 14.5%) and in those with cirrhosis than NAFLD (53.1% vs 14.5%). Congestive cardiac failure was less prevalent in NAFLD than in NASH and cirrhosis.

“Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is recognized as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, “ Mann said. But what’s new in the analysis is that the results show that NASH conveys an even greater risk, a finding he called “ an important insight into the burden of NAFLD and NASH.