Hepatic steatosis is associated with an increased risk of carotid atherosclerosis

World J Gastroenterol. 2005 Mar 28;11(12):1848-53. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v11.i12.1848.


Aim: Although an association between hepatic steatosis and vascular risk factors has been described, direct relationships between fatty liver and atherosclerosis have not yet been investigated. The aim of the present study has been to investigate those relationships.

Methods: The Study of Health in Pomerania examined a random population sample aged between 20 and 79 years. A study population of 4 222 subjects without hepatitis B and C infections and without liver cirrhosis was available for the present analysis. Hepatic steatosis was defined sonographically and intima-media thickness (IMT) as well as plaque prevalence were estimated by carotid ultrasound.

Results: The prevalence rate of hepatic steatosis was 29.9%. Among subjects aged > or =45 years, an association between hepatic steatosis and IMT of the carotid arteries was found in bivariate analysis, but not after adjustment for atherosclerotic risk factors. Individuals with fatty liver had more often carotid plaques than persons without fatty liver (plaque prevalence rate 76.8% vs 66.6%; P<0.001). This association persisted after adjustment for confounding factors and was predominantly present in subjects with no to mild alcohol consumption.

Conclusion: There is an independent association between hepatic steatosis and carotid atherosclerotic plaques. Metabolic changes due to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease may explain this relationship.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Fatty Liver / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors