Cardiac hepatopathy: clinical, hemodynamic, and histologic characteristics and correlations

Hepatology. 2003 Feb;37(2):393-400. doi: 10.1053/jhep.2003.50062.


Cardiac hepatopathy, hepatic injury caused by cardiac dysfunction, is a common entity but has been characterized incompletely, particularly the relationship between hemodynamics and histology. We aimed to describe the clinical, biochemical, hemodynamic, and histologic characteristics of this disorder. Eighty-three patients from 2 tertiary referral centers were studied. Patients were divided into 3 groups based on the duration of cardiac dysfunction: (1) acute (n = 12); (2) chronic (n = 53); and (3) acute on chronic (n = 18). Results showed that serum aminotransferase levels were increased typically, particularly in the acute group (median aspartate aminotransferase level was 30.2 times the upper limit of normal [range, 1-100]; P <.0001 vs. the chronic group). The most salient hemodynamic features were elevated right atrial (14 mm Hg [range, 1-29]), and hepatic venous pressures (wedged: 18 mm Hg [range, 5-35]; free: 15 mm Hg [range, 2-30]). The hepatic venous pressure gradient was normal in most (81%), correlated moderately with the aminotransferase levels (aspartate aminotransferase level: r =.59; P <.0001), and associated with the presence of centrilobular necrosis and inflammation, periportal necrosis, and stainable hepatic iron (P <.05 for all comparisons), but not fibrosis. Sinusoidal dilatation was associated with higher right atrial (P =.047) and free hepatic venous pressures (P =.06). Although cirrhosis was rare (n = 1), centrilobular fibrosis was common (74%) and not associated with any hemodynamic measurement. In conclusion, cardiac hepatopathy has diverse clinical, hemodynamic, and histologic manifestations that vary with the temporal course of cardiac dysfunction. Hepatic fibrosis is common, but does not correlate with systemic or hepatic hemodynamics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / complications*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Circulation*
  • Liver Diseases / blood
  • Liver Diseases / etiology*
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged