Fatty liver disease in its early stages doesn’t typically cause significant harm, and people often tend to overlook the condition until it progresses to more advanced stages. However, a malfunctioning liver doesn’t only raise the risk of liver cirrhosis and cancer but also contributes to cardiovascular disease. When the liver fails to metabolise fats and essential proteins properly, which are vital for maintaining heart health, it can result in elevated cholesterol levels, particularly LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, leading to heart-related issues and an increased risk of heart attacks.
According to Dr. Ravi Kiran, liver issues have a significant impact on cardiovascular well-being, often culminating in severe outcomes such as heart attacks. The liver plays a pivotal role in metabolising fats and generating essential proteins, which are crucial for a balanced cardiovascular system. Conditions like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or chronic liver disease disrupt lipid metabolism, causing heightened levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. This lipid imbalance contributes to atherosclerosis, the narrowing of arteries, thereby reducing blood flow to the heart.
Dr. Rakesh Rai Sapra, Director and Senior Consultant-Cardiology at Marengo Asia Hospitals Faridabad, concurs that there’s a clear and definite connection between liver and heart diseases. Individuals with fatty livers are more likely to die from heart attacks than from liver cirrhosis due to the similar risk factors for fatty liver disease and heart disease. Moreover, those with liver cirrhosis often develop impaired myocardial contractile responsiveness to stress, diastolic dysfunction, and electrophysiological disturbances, leading to increased chances of heart failure, abnormal cardiac rhythms, and sudden cardiac death.
Furthermore, there’s an increased likelihood of developing liver disease in patients with heart failure, both in acute and chronic conditions. In acute heart failure, inadequate blood flow to the liver can result in an acute liver injury called cardiogenic ischemic hepatitis. In chronic heart failure, persistently increased venous pressure leads to congestive liver disease, known as cardiac cirrhosis. Therefore, the relationship between liver and heart diseases is a complex, two-way disease process.
This intricate correlation underscores the importance of monitoring and maintaining both liver and heart health to prevent adverse outcomes.