Fatty Liver and More May Harden Arteries

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance linked to atherosclerosis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Your heart and blood health can have a huge impact on the health of other bodily systems. Similarly, your heart health can be affected by the health of other organs, including your liver.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance were associated with signs of atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) in a recent study.

Fatty liver and insulin resistance were also linked to features of metabolic syndrome (group of factors that increase risk of heart disease and diabetes), heart disease and other heart risks.

"Shed pounds to lower your risk of fatty liver disease."

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a condition in which fat builds up in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol.

According to Ki-Chul Sung, MD, PhD, of Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in South Korea, and colleagues, people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease also often have insulin resistance - a condition in which the body responds poorly to insulin, a natural hormone that manages blood sugar levels.

Dr. Sung and colleagues wanted to see if fatty liver, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome were associated with atherosclerosis.

Out of 10,153 people, 915 (9 percent) had signs of atherosclerosis (as defined by coronary artery calcium score greater than zero).

Among those patients with signs of atherosclerosis, 55 percent had fatty liver and 33.7 percent had insulin resistance.

Patients with a fatty liver were 1.21 times more likely to have signs of atherosclerosis, compared to those without fatty liver.

Patients with insulin resistance were 1.10 times more likely to have signs of atherosclerosis, compared to those without insulin resistance.

When patients had both insulin resistance and fatty liver, they were 1.53 times more likely to have signs of atherosclerosis.

The authors conclude that fatty liver and insulin resistance are both associated with signs of atherosclerosis.

For their study, Dr. Sung and colleagues looked at data from large group of South Koreans. All participants were screened for fatty liver using ultrasound and received a cardiac computed tomography CAC score.

The research was published July 24 in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 31, 2012
Last Updated:
May 16, 2013