High burden of coronary atherosclerosis in patients with cirrhosis

Konstantin Kazankov, Kim Munk, Kristian Altern Øvrehus, Jesper Møller Jensen, Cecilie Brøckner Siggaard, Henning Grønbaek, Bjarne Linde Nørgaard, Hendrik Vilstrup

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BACKGROUND: Population studies report increased cardiovascular mortality in patients with cirrhosis. Coronary artery disease may be a trait of end-stage liver disease, but whether it is frequent or extensive in cirrhosis in general is unknown. Thus, we aimed to assess the prevalence and extent of coronary artery disease in unselected cirrhosis patients.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Using coronary computed tomography angiography, we investigated 52 patients from all Child-Pugh classes and aetiologies of cirrhosis without known cardiac disease for presence and severity of coronary artery disease in a cross-sectional design. Persons referred with new-onset chest pain served as controls.

RESULTS: The prevalence of coronary artery disease was not significantly different between cirrhosis patients and controls (77% vs. 65%, P=0·19). However, cirrhosis patients had a markedly higher coronary artery calcification (Agatston) score than controls (120 [interquartile range, 0-345] vs. 5 [interquartile range, 0-86] HU, P=0·001). Likewise, patients with cirrhosis had a higher prevalence of extensive (≥5 coronary segments involved; 45% vs. 18%, P=0·01) and multivessel coronary disease (≥2 vessels involved; 75% vs. 53%, P=0·02). Furthermore, the total plaque volume whether noncalcified or calcified was higher in cirrhosis (117 [interquartile range, 0-310] vs. 36 [interquartile range, 0-148] mm(3) , P=0·02).

CONCLUSION: Coronary artery disease is equally prevalent in patients with cirrhosis and subjects with new-onset chest pain, but cirrhosis patients have more extensive and severe disease including several coronary high-risk features associated with myocardial ischaemia and a poor clinical outcome. The potential of preventive measures for coronary artery disease in cirrhosis needs attention.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Investigation
Pages (from-to)565-573
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Journal Article


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