Effect of hepatitis C virus infection and abstinence from alcohol on survival in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis

Miguel A Serra, Amparo Escudero, Felicidad Rodríguez, Juan A del Olmo, José M Rodrigo
Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 2003, 36 (2): 170-4

GOALS: We assessed the effect of HCV infection and abstinence from alcohol on survival in a cohort of patients with alcoholic cirrhosis.

BACKGROUND: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection may be an important cofactor for liver disease in chronic alcoholics.

STUDY: The study population consisted of 213 patients with the diagnosis of alcoholic cirrhosis, 72 of these patients were infected by HCV. Complete alcohol abstinence after diagnosis of alcoholic cirrhosis was recorded in 86 patients. The reference group consisted of 89 patients with anti-HCV positivity who had never consumed alcohol. Survival was analyzed by the Kaplan and Meier method and predictors of survival by the Cox's multiple regression model.

RESULTS: HCV infection was not a determinant factor for survival in alcoholic cirrhosis. Age and Child-Pugh grade at the time of diagnosis of cirrhosis and persistence of alcohol consumption after diagnosis were independent predictors of poor outcome. The cumulative survival curve in abstinent alcoholics was significantly different from that of alcoholics who maintained the same pattern of alcohol consumption (log-rank = 4.30, p = 0.0381). Moreover, the cumulative survival in patients with anti-HCV-positive cirrhosis who stopped drinking after diagnosis was similar to that in patients with HCV-positive cirrhosis who had never consumed alcohol (log-rank 0.26, p = 0.61).

CONCLUSIONS: Cumulative survival in alcoholic cirrhosis does not seem to be influenced by the presence or absence of markers of HCV infection. Once liver cirrhosis has been diagnosed in the alcoholic patient, complete alcohol abstinence should be strongly recommended.

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