Researchers from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai have found how FIB-4 scores, a marker for liver fibrosis indicates the development of severe liver disease with heart abnormalities. The findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, to investigate patients FIB-4-scores. Both heart and liver diseases are regarded as a something serious that drifts the health system and is a leading cause of deterioration of quality of life and shortened life expectancy.
FIB-4 index, is proposed to assess hepatic fibrosis in patients with HIV and hepatitis C Virus(HCV) coinfection. A value of FIB-4 below 1.3 is considered as less risky for advanced fibrosis condition whereas a value of FIB-4 higher than 2.67 is considered as high risk for advanced fibrosis. This study indicates that elevated FIB-4 scores are often associated with heart abnormalities in regards to its function and vascular dimension.
Alan Kwan, MD, a cardiologist and researcher in the Smidt Heart Institute, said it had been misunderstood that non-alcoholic liver disease was often associated with cardiovascular death, but this relationship was poorly understood and possibly screens the risk factors the two disease have in common, such as diabetes.
Previous similar studies usually focused the areas how cirrhosis (a chronic condition of the liver where degeneration of cells, inflammation, and fibrous thickening of tissue takes place) and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease(NAFLD) affected the heart.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease(NAFLD) is a collective term for a range of liver conditions for people who drink little to no alcohol. As the name suggests, the main element of NAFLD is too much fat stored in liver cells.
According to a report released earlier this year by American Heart Association(AHA), on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease– a common liver condition which affects one out of four person in America– is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and this abnormalities of heart is the leading cause of death in people with NAFLD and not the progression of liver disease.
The overall aim of this study was to examine the connections between the heart and the liver, which is relatively a newer area of study, but one that made sense. The function of liver is to process cholesterol and produces factors responsible in blood clotting and inflammation of cells–all of which can affect the heart, so it was important to have a closer look at these associations, said Kwan.
How FIB-4 score helps to map cardiovascular disease?
To conduct this study, researchers reviewed e-medical records from the past 11 years of 1,668 patients with low, moderate, or high FIB-4 scores within one year of having a cardiac MRI, for determining the standard risk factors. They observed that 86 per cent of patients had at least one condition of heart abnormality. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves along with a computer to produce detailed pictures of the heart.
These abnormalities seems to make vascular changes– enlargement of the blood vessel coming out of the heart, which in return increases the rate of flow of blood. It is now important to explore how liver disease impacts heart conditions.
Other questions also needs to be addressed like can medications for NAFLD improve the heart condition? Or, while looking at the patients medical and family history, should NAFLD be also considered as a risk factor along with other factors while visiting for medical help.