Cirrhotic cardiomyopathy: review of pathophysiology and treatment

Hepatol Int. 2014 Jul;8(3):308-15. doi: 10.1007/s12072-014-9531-y.


Cirrhotic cardiomyopathy is a cardiac condition observed in patients with cirrhotic regardless of the etiologies. It is characterized by the impaired systolic response to physical stress, diastolic dysfunction, and electrophysiological abnormalities, especially QT interval prolongation. Its pathophysiology and clinical significance has been a focus of various researchers for the past decades. The impairment of β-adrenergic receptor, the increase in endogenous cannabinoids, the presence of cardiosuppressants such as nitric oxide and inflammatory cytokines are the proposed mechanisms of systolic dysfunction. The activation of cardiac renin-angiotensin system and salt retention play the role in the development of cardiac hypertrophy and impaired diastolic function. QT interval prolongation, which is observed in 40-50 % of cirrhotic patients, occurs as a result of the derangement in membrane fluidity and ion channel defect. The increased recognition of this disease will prevent the complications of overt heart failure after procedures such as transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) and liver transplantation. Better understandings of the pathogenesis and pathology of cirrhotic cardiomyopathy is crucial in developing more accurate diagnostic tools and specific treatments of this condition.

Keywords: Cardiac dysfunction; Cirrhotic cardiomyopathy; Pathophysiology.