Pronounced Coronary Arteriosclerosis in Cirrhosis: Influence on Cardiac Function and Survival?

Karen V Danielsen, Signe Wiese, Jens Hove, Flemming Bendtsen, Søren Møller
Digestive Diseases and Sciences 2018, 63 (5): 1355-1362

BACKGROUND: The relation between excessive alcohol consumption and coronary arteriosclerosis has remained controversial. The etiology of cirrhosis has been considered a substantial risk factor for development of arteriosclerotic lesions. The coronary artery calcium-score derived from coronary CT angiography is a robust marker of coronary arteriosclerosis.

AIMS: To study the burden of coronary arteriosclerosis in cirrhotic patients of various etiologies and association to cardiac dysfunction and survival.

METHODS: Fifty-seven patients with cirrhosis without cardiovascular disease underwent coronary CT angiography, tissue Doppler echocardiography, electrocardiogram and registration of clinical and biochemical characteristics.

RESULTS: In patients with cirrhosis the median coronary artery calcium-score was increased in comparison with age and race-adjusted healthy reference values (men: 328 vs. 9 HU and women: 136 vs. 0 HU; p < 0.001). Moreover, the coronary artery calcium-score in alcohol-related cirrhosis was significantly higher than in nonalcohol-related cirrhosis (362 vs. 46 HU, p < 0.001). Coronary artery calcium-score correlated with age (p = 0.002) but not with established cardiovascular risk factors including smoking, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, gender, or hypercholesterolemia. Coronary artery calcium-score was associated with diastolic dysfunction, lateral e´ (p = 0.025), but not with other markers of cardiac dysfunction. During a median follow-up of 25 months 12 patients (21%) died but coronary artery calcium-score was not associated with survival.

CONCLUSIONS: Coronary arteriosclerosis was particular extensive in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis. However, the current results suggest that coronary arteriosclerosis only have limited influence on cardiac function and survival. Surprisingly, no other established risk factors apart from age seemed to interfere with coronary arteriosclerosis in cirrhotic patients.

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