Aims: The prevalence and importance of liver function test (LFT) abnormalities in a large contemporary cohort of heart failure patients have not been systematically evaluated.
Methods and results: We characterized the LFTs of 2679 patients with symptomatic chronic heart failure from the Candesartan in Heart failure: Assessment of Reduction in Mortality and morbidity program (CHARM). We used multivariable modelling to assess the relationships between baseline LFT values and long-term outcomes. Liver function test abnormalities were common in patients with chronic heart failure, ranging from alanine aminotransferase elevation in 3.1% of patients to low albumin in 18.3% of patients; total bilirubin was elevated in 13.0% of patients. In multivariable analysis, elevated total bilirubin was the strongest LFT predictor of adverse outcome for both the composite outcome of cardiovascular death or heart failure hospitalization (HR 1.21 per 1 SD increase, P<0.0001) and all-cause mortality (HR 1.19 per 1 SD increase, P<0.0001). Even after adjustment for other variables, elevated total bilirubin was one of the strongest independent predictors of poor prognosis (by global chi-square).
Conclusion: Bilirubin is independently associated with morbidity and mortality. Changes in total bilirubin may offer insight into the underlying pathophysiology of chronic heart failure.