Can your fatty liver give you a heart attack? Here’s what experts say

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People with fatty liver are more likely to die of a heart attack than a liver condition like cirrhosis or liver cancer, say experts.

Fatty liver disease in early stages do not cause serious harm and very often people tend to ignore this condition till it advances to later stages. However, dysfunctional liver not only puts one at risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer but also cardiovascular disease. When a person’s liver doesn’t work the way it should, then it may not be able to metabolise fats and essential proteins properly which are essential to maintain health of your heart. This can increase cholesterol levels or bad cholesterol or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) which can further lead to heart conditions and increase risk of heart attack.


Dr Ravi Kiran says that liver problems indeed puts you at risk of heart attack.

“Liver problems exert a profound influence on cardiovascular health, often culminating in dire consequences like heart attacks. The liver plays a pivotal role in metabolizing fats and producing essential proteins, vital for maintaining a balanced cardiovascular system. When the liver falters due to conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or chronic liver disease, it disrupts lipid metabolism, leading to heightened levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. This lipid imbalance precipitates atherosclerosis, the narrowing of arteries, thus diminishing blood flow to the heart,” says Dr Ravi Kiran S K, Consultant, Hepatology & Liver Transplantation, Narayana Health City Bangalore.


Dr Rakesh Rai Sapra, Director and Senior Consultant-Cardiology, Marengo Asia Hospitals Faridabad agrees that there is definite and clear association between liver disease and heart disease and people with fatty liver are more likely to die from a heart attack than liver cirrhosis.

“The risk factors of fatty liver disease and heart disease are similar. That is why it is felt that people with fatty liver are more likely to die from heart attack than from chronic liver cirrhosis. Also, patients with cirrhosis of liver tend to develop impaired myocardial contractile responsiveness to stress, diastolic dysfunction and electrophysiological disturbances, in the absence of other known cardiac disease. This is labelled as Cirrhotic cardiomyopathy. This condition although clinically missed may be present in up to 50% of patients with cirrhosis. This leads to increased chances of heart failure, abnormal cardiac rhythms and sudden cardiac death in patients with cirrhosis of liver,” says Dr Sapra.

“Similarly, there is an increased likelihood of development of liver disease in patients of heart failure. This happens both in acute and chronic heart failure conditions. In acute heart failure state due to inadequate blood flow to liver acute liver injury occurs which is called cardiogenic ischemic hepatitis. In chronic heart failure state due to persistent increased venous pressure, congestive liver disease develops which is called cardiac cirrhosis. So, the correlation between liver and heart disease is actually considered a two-way disease process,” concludes Dr Sapra.


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