Background & aims: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is associated with a twofold greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Despite this, little is known about the effect of NAFLD upon cardiac function, limiting our ability to identify therapeutic strategies. This study aimed to address this by defining the effect of NAFLD on cardiac function, structure, and metabolism.
Methods: Nineteen adults with NAFLD were age-, sex-, and BMI-matched to healthy controls without liver or metabolic disease. Cardiac structure and function were assessed using high-resolution cardiac MRI and tagging at 3.0 T. High-energy phosphate metabolism was assessed using (31)P-magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure the PCr/ATP ratio.
Results: Adults with NAFLD had significantly thicker left ventricular walls at systole (14 ± 3 vs. 12 ± 2 mm; p <0.01) and diastole (8 ± 1 vs. 7 ± 1 mm; p <0.01) than those without fatty liver and showed decreased longitudinal shortening (14 ± 3 vs. 17 ± 3%; p <0.01). The eccentricity ratio was significantly higher in the NAFLD group (1.1 ± 0.2 vs. 0.9 ± 0.2 g/ml; p <0.01) indicating concentric remodelling. Peak whole wall strain was higher in the NAFLD group (19 ± 2 vs. 17 ± 3%; p <0.01), as was peak endocardial strain (28 ± 4 vs. 22 ± 5%; p <0.01). Cardiac metabolism, measured by PCr/ATP ratio, was not altered in NAFLD (1.8 ± 0.3 vs. 1.9 ± 0.3; p=0.36).
Conclusions: Significant changes in cardiac structure and function are evident in adults with NAFLD in the apparent absence of metabolic changes or overt cardiac disease. Clinicians should continue to explore therapies to improve cardiac function as a means to modify the excess risk of cardiovascular disease associated with NAFLD.
Copyright © 2012 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.