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Fatty Liver and its link to Heart Disease

In our previous topic, Fatty Liver: Know it all, we talked about the types of Fatty liver disease (Alcoholic fatty liver & Non Alcoholic fatty liver disease), risk factors of fatty liver and the different stages of the disease. Up until Non Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH), it is still reversible. These are all classified under the Non Alcoholic Liver Disease (NAFLD). The pathophysiological effects of NAFLD extend beyond just the liver. NAFLD is also associated with the prevalence and incidence of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM).

The risk of developing these diseases parallels the severity of NAFLD. Patients with NASH have a greater risk of developing CVD and other diseases compared with simple steatosis according to studies. Patients with NAFLD are more likely to experience a CVD-related death compared to a liver related death

Possible CVD-related complications

The below diagram shows a summary of some CVD related complications associated with NAFLD.

Evidence suggested facts

  • NAFLD is linked with valvular heart disease (aortic-valve sclerosis, mitral annulus calcification, abnormal early diastolic relaxation and increase in left ventricular filling pressures )

  • NAFLD is linked with increased risk of cardiac arrhythmias (mainly atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachyarrhythmias)

  • Hepatic steatosis was associated with 32% higher odds of developing aortic valve sclerosis compared to patients without hepatic steatosis

  • NAFLD is associated with an increase in epicardial fat, which is associated with an increase in coronary artery calcification.

These partly contribute to the explanation of the increased risk of CVD events observed in patients with NAFLD.

Get a thorough cardiac screening evaluation if you have not if you have fatty liver disease.

Refer to your Cardiologist, Liver doctor or Dietitian/Nutritionist for a plan that is most suitable for you. Your healthcare team would know your condition best and render safe, effective and evidence based recommendations.

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