Retrospective Cohort Study Open Access
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2018. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Aug 21, 2018; 24(31): 3547-3555
Published online Aug 21, 2018. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v24.i31.3547
Favorable clinical outcome of nonalcoholic liver cirrhosis patients with coronary artery disease: A population-based study
Ming-Chang Tsai, Tzu-Wei Yang, Chi-Chih Wang, Chun-Che Lin, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung 402, Taiwan
Ming-Chang Tsai, Chi-Chih Wang, Yao-Tung Wang, Wen-Wei Sung, Chun-Che Lin, Institute of Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung 402, Taiwan
Ming-Chang Tsai, Tzu-Wei Yang, Chi-Chih Wang, Wen-Wei Sung, Ming-Hseng Tseng, Chun-Che Lin, School of Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung 402, Taiwan
Tzu-Wei Yang, Institute and Department of Biological Science and Technology, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu 300, Taiwan
Yao-Tung Wang, Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung 402, Taiwan
Wen-Wei Sung, Department of Urology, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung 402, Taiwan
Ming-Hseng Tseng, Department of Medical Informatics, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung 402, Taiwan
ORCID number: Ming-Chang Tsai (0000-0002-7687-2329); Tzu-Wei Yang (0000-0002-1522-8177); Chi-Chih Wang (0000-0002-8222-0503); Yao-Tung Wang (0000-0002-0300-0896); Wen-Wei Sung (0000-0002-2375-0029); Ming-Hseng Tseng (0000-0001-8868-1610); Chun-Che Lin (0000-0002-2474-6734).
Author contributions: All authors reviewed the manuscript and completed final approval; Tsai MC, Yang TW, Tseng MH and Lin CC contributed to study concept and design; Tsai MC, Yang TW and Tseng MH acquired the data; Tsai MC, Yang TW, Wang YT, Sung WW, Tseng MH and Lin CC analyzed and interpreted the data; Tsai MC and Yang TW wrote the manuscript daft; Tsai MC, Yang TW, Wang CC, Wang YT, Sung WW, Tseng MH and Lin CC made critical revision on the manuscript for important intellectual content; Tsai MC, Yang TW and Tseng MH performed statistical analysis; Lin CC obtained funding; Tseng MH and Lin CC contributed to study supervision.
Supported by Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan, No. CSH- 2013-C-032.
Institutional review board statement: This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taiwan.
Informed consent statement: The IRB waived the need of informed consent for this retrospective study based on an encrypted National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD).
Conflict-of-interest statement: The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Data sharing statement: The data of our study were retrieved from the National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD) in Taiwan. The application for the data was reviewed and approved by the National Health Insurance (NHI). NHIRD are available via http://nhird.nhri.org.tw/.
STROBE statement: The authors have read the STROBE Statement-checklist of items, and the manuscript was prepared and revised according to the STROBE Statement-checklist of items.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Correspondence to: Chun-Che Lin, MD, PhD, Professor, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, No.110, Sec. 1, Jianguo N. Rd., South Dist., Taichung 402, Taiwan. forest65@csmu.edu.tw
Telephone: +886-4-24739595 Fax: +886-4-24739220
Received: April 19, 2018
Peer-review started: April 19, 2018
First decision: June 6, 2018
Revised: July 11, 2018
Accepted: July 16, 2018
Article in press: July 16, 2018
Published online: August 21, 2018

Abstract
AIM

To elucidate the prevalence and risk of mortality of nonalcoholic liver cirrhosis (LC) patients with coronary artery disease (CAD).

METHODS

The study cohort included newly diagnosed nonalcoholic LC patients age ≥ 40 years old without a diagnosis of CAD from 2006 until 2011 from a longitudinal health insurance database. The mean follow-up period for the study cohort was 1152 ± 633 d. The control cohort was matched by sex, age, residence, and index date. Hazard ratios (HRs) were calculated using the Cox proportional hazard model and the Kaplan-Meier method.

RESULTS

After exclusion, a total of 3409 newly diagnosed nonalcoholic cirrhotic patients were identified from one million samples from the health insurance database. We found that CAD (5.1% vs 17.4%) and hyperlipidemia (20.6% vs 24.1%) were less prevalent in nonalcoholic LC patients than in normal subjects (all P < 0.001), whereas other comorbidities exhibited an increased prevalence. Among the comorbidities, chronic kidney disease exhibited the highest risk for mortality (adjusted HR (AHR) = 1.76; 95%CI: 1.55-2.00, P < 0.001). Ascites or peritonitis exhibited the highest risk of mortality among nonalcoholic cirrhotic patients (AHR = 2.34; 95%CI: 2.06-2.65, P < 0.001). Finally, a total of 170 patients developed CAD after a diagnosis of nonalcoholic LC. The AHR of CAD in nonalcoholic LC patients was 0.56 (95%CI: 0.43-0.74, P < 0.001). The six-year survival rates for nonalcoholic LC patients with and without CAD were 52% and 50%, respectively (P = 0.012).

CONCLUSION

We conclude that CAD was less prevalent and associated with a reduced risk of mortality in nonalcoholic cirrhotic patients.

Key Words: Nonalcoholic liver cirrhosis, Coronary artery disease, Population-based study

Core tip: Coronary artery disease (CAD) is less prevalent and associated with a reduced risk of mortality in nonalcoholic liver cirrhosis (LC) patients. Nonalcoholic LC patients with CAD exhibit an increased six-year survival rate compared to cirrhotic patients without CAD. The LC complication rates did not differ between nonalcoholic LC patients with and without CAD. Of note, nonalcoholic LC patients with ascites or peritonitis exhibited the highest risk of mortality among LC complications.



INTRODUCTION

Liver cirrhosis (LC) is the 14th leading cause of death in adults and accounted for one million deaths in 2010 worldwide[1]. In Taiwan, LC and chronic liver disease constituted the 8th most common cause of death in 2011[2]. These conditions contribute to numerous lethal complications and comorbidities that result in poor clinical outcomes. Variceal bleeding, systemic infection, hepatic encephalopathy, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are the primary complications of LC and causes of mortality[3,4]. In addition, LC is associated with systemic comorbidities, such as hemorrhagic stroke and digestive tract malignancies[5-7].

Controversy has emerged regarding the association between LC and coronary artery disease (CAD) in recent decades[7-17]. Several comorbidities of cirrhotic patients have been regarded as cardioprotective factors (e.g., low blood pressure, coagulopathy, thrombocytopenia, malnutrition, and lower serum cholesterol levels)[8,18-20]. However, case-controlled studies have revealed conflicting results and an increased prevalence of CAD in LC patients compared to the normal population[7,9,17,21,22]. A different etiology with an increased proportion of alcoholic and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)-related LC in Western populations may have contributed to this result. Furthermore, the application of interferon and nucleot(s)ide analogues for viral hepatitis aided in prolonging survival in recent decades[23,24]. Age-related risks associated with CAD also may have led to an increased prevalence of CAD.

There is a paucity of available data regarding the association between nonalcoholic LC and CAD. Taiwan is an endemic area of viral hepatitis where the majority of LC in patients is caused by hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) viral infections[25]. Hence, the nonalcoholic LC population in Taiwan is an ideal cohort in which the confounding effect of alcohol consumption is minimized.

The aim of our study was to elucidate the association between nonalcoholic LC and CAD using a national population-based database in Taiwan. Additionally, we analyzed the prevalence, hazard ratio (HR), and survival for concomitant comorbidities and complications.

MATERIALS AND METHODS
Study population and design

This study was a nationwide retrospective longitudinal population-based cohort study based on the Taiwanese National Health Insurance research database (NHIRD). The National Health Insurance program has provided compulsory medical insurance for greater than 99% of the Taiwanese population since March 1, 1995. We identified all LC patients with a first-time diagnosis of LC using International Classification of Disease, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) codes (ICD-9-CM code: 571.5) for the period from 2004 to 2011. The following patients were excluded from the study: patients who had LC or CAD before the end of 2005, had LC after diagnosis of CAD from 2006 to 2011, were younger than 40 years old, had a diagnosis of alcoholic LC (ICD-9-CM code: 571.2) or biliary LC (ICD-9-CM code: 571.6), and were outpatients with less than two follow-up visits after the first visit. The control subjects were matched with the patients in the study cohort at a ratio of five to one (5 control subjects per case patient) in terms of sex, age (40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and > 69 years), residence, and entry year.

Other comorbidity data and the ICD-9-CM codes are summarized in Table Appendix 1. The diagnosis of comorbidities was defined as having three outpatient visits or one admission. Hyperlipidemia was defined as having a lipid profile with any one of the following factors: total cholesterol (TC) ≥ 2000 mg/L, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) ≥ 1600 mg/L, or a triglyceride (TG) level ≥ 1500 mg/L. Complications of LC that occurred after enrollment included esophageal varices (EV) (ICD-9-CM codes: 456-456.21), EV with bleeding (ICD-9-CM codes: 456.0, 456.20) concomitant with ICD-9 procedure codes for ligation of EV or sclerotherapy, ascites (ICD-9-CM codes: 789.5 and 568.82) or peritonitis (ICD-9-CM codes: 567.xx), and hepatic encephalopathy (ICD-9-CM code: 572.2).

End point measurement

We followed up all the subjects enrolled from the index date to the end of 2011. The mean follow-up period for the newly diagnosed nonalcoholic LC cohort (3409 patients) was 1152 ± 633 d with a median of 1169 d, maximum of 2920 d, and minimum of 7 d. Patients with newly diagnosed CAD (one inpatient or three outpatient codes) were categorized based on the first incidence of CAD. The first-time diagnosis of CAD was identified as the primary end point, and the death of the subject served as the secondary end point. All-cause mortality was analyzed in both the study and control cohorts.

Statistical analysis

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 (Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA, United States) was used to perform data processing. Statistical analyses were conducted using SPSS software 19.0 (SPSS, Inc., Chicago, IL, United States). Chi-square tests and analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to analyze the demographic data, concomitant comorbidities, and complications of cirrhosis. A Cox proportional hazards model was developed to calculate the overall mortality HRs of all comorbidities and complications in cirrhotic patients. The results are expressed in unadjusted and adjusted HRs (AHRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). The six-year cumulative survival and survival curve were calculated using the Cox regression method and Kaplan-Meier method. A two-tailed P value less than or equal to 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

RESULTS
Primary outcome: CAD was less prevalent in patients with nonalcoholic LC

A total of 10142 cases of LC were retrieved from one million random samples in the NHIRD from 2004 to 2011. To ensure that only newly diagnosed LC cases were included, we excluded patients who met the following criteria: LC diagnosed before the end of 2005, CAD occurred before LC, alcoholic or biliary LC, and age younger than 40 years old. Finally, a total of 3409 newly diagnosed nonalcoholic LC patients between 2006 and 2011 were identified and included in the study (Figure 1). To select age-, sex-, residence-, and entry year-matched controls, we further excluded 173 cirrhotic patients to achieve 100% randomization. A total of 3236 patients with nonalcoholic LC and 16180 matched controls were analyzed for all demographic characteristics (Table 1). Patients with nonalcoholic LC were more likely to have comorbidities including hemorrhagic stroke, hypertension, heart failure (HF), diabetes mellitus (DM), chronic kidney disease (CKD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (all P < 0.001), and ischemic stroke (P = 0.005). In contrast, hyperlipidemia was less prevalent in nonalcoholic LC patients (P < 0.001). During six years of follow-up, 165 (5.1%) patients in the nonalcoholic LC cohort and 2814 (17.4%) subjects in the control cohort developed CAD (P < 0.001).

Table 1 Characteristics of non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis cohort and the matched control cohort n (%).
VariableNon-alcoholic LC patients, n = 3236Control, n = 16180P value
Sex1.000
Male2083 (64.4)10415 (64.4)
Female1153 (35.6)5765 (35.6)
Age (yr)1.000
40-49565 (17.5)2825 (17.5)
50-59885 (27.3)4425 (27.3)
60-69766 (23.7)3830 (23.7)
> 691020 (31.5)5100 (31.5)
Residence1.000
Metropolis1834 (56.7)9170 (56.7)
General area1362 (42.1)6810 (42.1)
Remote areas40 (1.2)200 (1.2)
Coronary artery disease165 (5.1)2814 (17.4)< 0.001
Cerebrovascular disease413 (12.8)1580 (9.8)< 0.001
Hemorrhage110 (3.4)283 (1.7)< 0.001
Ischemia333 (10.3)1413 (8.7)0.005
Hypertension1620 (50.1)6672 (41.2)< 0.001
Heart failure252 (7.8)972 (6.0)< 0.001
Diabetes mellitus1075 (33.2)3141 (19.4)< 0.001
Chronic kidney disease616 (19.0)1216 (7.5)< 0.001
Hyperlipidemia668 (20.6)3903 (24.1)< 0.001
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease534 (16.5)1976 (12.2)< 0.001
Figure 1
Figure 1 Study design.
Nonalcoholic LC patients with and without CAD

As shown in Table 2, we stratified nonalcoholic LC patients (n = 3409) into two groups according to the presence of CAD. Nonalcoholic LC patients with CAD were older (≥ 60 years old), more likely female, and exhibited increased concomitant comorbidities of ischemic stroke, hypertension, HF, DM, CKD, hyperlipidemia, and COPD (all P < 0.001). When we compared the complications of liver cirrhosis between the two groups, nonalcoholic LC patients with CAD had fewer LC-related complications, including EV with bleeding, ascites or peritonitis, and hepatic encephalopathy (Supplementary Table 1). However, no significant differences were noted between the two groups.

Table 2 Characteristics of non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis patients with and without coronary artery disease n (%).
VariableNon-alcoholic LC with CAD, n = 170Non-alcoholic LC without CAD, n = 3239P value
Sex0.094
Male99 (58.2)2091 (64.6)
Female71 (41.8)1148 (35.4)
Age (yr)< 0.001
40-4918 (10.6)554 (17.1)
50-5925 (14.7)877 (27.1)
60-6946 (27.1)751 (23.2)
> 6981 (47.6)1057 (32.6)
Residence0.484
Metropolis89 (52.4)1830 (56.5)
General area79 (46.5)1358 (41.9)
Remote areas2 (1.2)51 (1.6)
Cerebrovascular disease46 (27.1)400 (12.3)< 0.001
Hemorrhage9 (5.2)103 (3.2)0.132
Ischemia37 (21.8)327 (10.1)< 0.001
Hypertension139 (81.8)1594 (49.2)< 0.001
Heart failure54 (31.8)215 (6.6)< 0.001
Diabetes mellitus84 (49.4)1051 (32.4)< 0.001
Chronic renal failure68 (40.0)587 (18.1)< 0.001
Hyperlipidemia54 (31.8)656 (20.3)< 0.001
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease49 (28.8)521 (16.1)< 0.001
Secondary outcome: Increased survival rate in the nonalcoholic LC with CAD group

We analyzed 3409 nonalcoholic LC patients and 16180 control subjects with a mean follow-up period of six years, and six-year survival rates were 50% and 85%, respectively (P < 0.001) (Figure 2A). When we compared nonalcoholic LC patients with and without CAD, the six-year survival rates were 52% and 50%, respectively (P = 0.012) (Figure 2B). The Cox regression proportional hazard model corresponding to each group also demonstrated a better survival rate for the nonalcoholic LC with CAD group than for those without CAD (AHR: 0.56; 95%CI: 0.43-0.74; P < 0.001) (Table 3).

Figure 2
Figure 2 Kaplan-Meier analysis of overall survival. A: Cumulative survival using the Kaplan-Meier method for nonalcoholic LC patients and controls during the follow-up period; B: Cumulative survival using the Kaplan-Meier method for nonalcoholic LC patients with and without CAD during the follow-up period. LC: Liver cirrhosis; CAD: Coronary artery disease.
Table 3 Hazard ratios of mortality in non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis patients with comorbidities using Cox regression model.
VariableUnadjusted hazard ratio
Adjusted hazard ratio1
Risk ratio95%CIP valueRisk ratio95%CIP value
Sex
Male1.201.07-1.350.0021.341.19-1.51< 0.001
Female (reference)
Age (yr)
40-49 (reference)
50-591.040.85-1.270.6881.080.89-1.320.446
60-691.291.06-1.570.0131.401.14-1.72< 0.001
> 692.512.10-3.00< 0.0012.732.25-3.30< 0.001
Coronary artery disease
No (reference)
Yes0.710.55-0.930.0120.560.43-0.74< 0.001
Cerebrovascular disease
No (reference)
Yes1.251.08-1.450.0041.080.93-1.270.323
Hypertension
No (reference)
Yes0.980.88-1.090.7090.750.66-0.85< 0.001
Heart failure
No (reference)
Yes1.501.26-1.78< 0.0011.231.02-1.480.027
Diabetes mellitus
No (reference)
Yes1.030.92-1.160.6091.120.99-1.260.082
Chronic kidney disease
No (reference)
Yes1.891.67-2.13< 0.0011.761.55-2.00< 0.001
Hyperlipidemia
No (reference)
Yes0.510.44-0.60< 0.0010.520.44-0.62< 0.001
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
No (reference)
Yes1.301.13-1.48< 0.0010.990.858-1.1410.888
HRs of mortality in LC patients with different comorbidities and complications

Table 3 presents the HRs of mortality in LC patients with different comorbidities. Increased HRs were observed for males, older patients, cerebrovascular disease (CVD), HF, DM, CKD and COPD. Among these factors, CKD exhibited the highest AHR of mortality (AHR: 1.76; 95%CI: 1.55-2.00). The AHRs of CAD, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia were reduced. Hyperlipidemia exhibited the lowest AHR of 0.52 (95%CI: 0.44-0.62).

When we analyzed the HRs of LC complications that occurred after enrollment, all complications exhibited increased values for both unadjusted HRs and AHRs. Ascites or peritonitis exhibited the highest AHR at 2.34 (95%CI: 2.06-2.65) (Supplementary Table 2).

Finally, we compared the effect of the number of comorbidities and complications on the survival rate in LC patients. Cirrhotic patients with one, two, or three comorbidities had HRs of 1.35, 1.72, and 1.95 (95%CI: 1.19-1.55, 1.47-2.00, and 1.57-2.43), respectively (Supplementary Table 3). However, the HRs for one, two, or t three LC complications were 3.56, 4.63, and 5.15 (95%CI: 3.14-4.03, 3.94-5.44, and 3.82-6.94), respectively (Supplementary Table 4).

DISCUSSION

In the present study, we observed a reduced prevalence of CAD and an increased survival rate for concomitant CAD in nonalcoholic LC patients. A lower prevalence of atherosclerosis and CAD was first described in an autopsy-based study in 1960[10]. A reduced prevalence of ischemic events was also reported for ischemic stroke[8,26]. However, conflicting data have been reported in some retrospective cohort and case-controlled studies[8,9,13,16,17,21,22]. First, the increased prevalence of CAD found in LC patients might be due to the different etiologies of LC in these Western population-based cohorts. An increased proportion of NASH and alcohol-related LC was noted compared to cohorts in viral hepatitis endemic areas[13,16,21,22]. NASH and alcohol consumption are generally associated with increased CAD risk factors. Nonetheless, the prevalence of CAD was reduced in end-stage liver disease patients assessed for liver transplantation who had alcoholic LC when compared to those with nonalcoholic LC[27]. Although moderate consumption of alcohol (< 30 g/d) has been reported as a protective factor against CAD[12], controversy still exists regarding heavy drinkers. In comparison, most subjects in our study had viral hepatitis-related LC. Few metabolic disorders were associated with steatohepatitis (such as hyperlipidemia), and no alcohol consumption was reported in our study cohort.

Second, lower blood pressure, better serum lipid profiles (including lower LDL-C, TC, and TG), and coagulopathy in LC patients were regarded as protective factors against CAD[8,18-20,22]. However, viral hepatitis per se can influence vessel function and cause endothelial dysfunction, which is correlated with atherosclerotic disease progression[28]. A retrospective cohort study indicated that hepatitis C virus-infected subjects exhibited an increased risk for CAD, although better blood pressure and lipid profiles were observed in the population[29,30]. Consistent with previous reports, we observed a reduced prevalence of hyperlipidemia in cirrhotic patients. The proportion of comorbidities, including CVD, hypertension, HF, DM, CKD, hyperlipidemia, and COPD, was increased in the nonalcoholic LC with CAD patients[7]. The increase in these age-related comorbidities may be attributed to the older age in this study cohort. Third, CAD is an age-related disease. We hypothesize that better liver function may contribute to increased survival in the cirrhotic patients with CAD cohort. When survival is prolonged, age-related CAD risks also increase[31].

Ischemic stroke is a systemic thromboembolic event. Compared to normal subjects, the prevalence of ischemic stroke was reduced in cirrhotic patients[32]. In contrast, hemorrhagic events increased[7,33]. However, in our study, both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke were significantly increased in nonalcoholic LC subjects. Of note, the prevalence of hemorrhagic stroke in nonalcoholic LC patients was two-fold higher than that in normal subjects (3.4% vs 1.7%, P < 0.001), which was considerably increased compared to ischemic stroke (10.3% vs 8.7%, P = 0.005). Older age and higher proportions of concomitant hypertension, DM, and COPD (as a result of smoking) in our nonalcoholic LC cohort might explain this result. These comorbidities have been reported as significant risk factors for all types of stroke[34].

We analyzed the association among comorbidities, complications, and HRs in LC patients. Consistent with previous studies, cirrhosis concomitant with CVD, HF, CKD, or COPD was regarded as a risk factor for mortality in both the Charlson comorbidity index and the Cirrhosis-specific Comorbidity Scoring System (CirCom)[35-37]. In addition, CKD had the highest HR in our study and exhibited increased risk scores in the two prognostic scoring systems. All the complications in LC patients were risk factors in our study. However, CAD, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia were associated with a lower HR and improved survival in this study. Although acute myocardial infarction was found to be a risk factor of mortality in nonalcoholic LC patients[36], the relationship among chronic stable CAD, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and LC mortality remains unclear. Among these factors, cirrhotic patients with greater than three comorbidities exhibited the worst prognosis with at least a 1.954-fold increased risk of mortality.

Limitations

There were some limitations in our study. First, this is a retrospective cohort study. Although nonalcoholic LC and CAD subjects were retrieved from the Taiwanese NHIRD database according to ICD-9 codes, data were lacking regarding the severity of cirrhosis (e.g., Child-Turcotte-Pugh scores). In this study, we excluded patients who had less than three outpatient visits with the same diagnosis. Furthermore, we analyzed the complications of cirrhosis to evaluate the severity. Second, the severity of concomitant comorbidities, such as hypertension, DM, and hyperlipidemia, cannot be evaluated. In addition, other known risk factors, such as smoking status and family history of CAD, were not recorded in the database. Third, the severity of CAD was not recorded in the database. A prospective case-controlled study revealed an increased prevalence of nonobstructive CAD (i.e., narrowing < 50%) in cirrhotic patients compared to normal controls using computerized coronary angiography. This feature may contribute to the increased survival rates for LC patients with CAD. The severity of CAD should be further evaluated in future studies[17]. Finally, the different follow-up periods for each patient may impact the HRs of mortality in nonalcoholic LC patients.

In conclusion, CAD was less prevalent in nonalcoholic LC patients. Among cirrhotic patients, an increased number of concomitant comorbidities was found in cirrhotic patients with CAD. However, improved survival was found in nonalcoholic LC patients with CAD when compared to those without CAD.

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS
Research background

The risk of mortality in nonalcoholic liver cirrhosis (LC) patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) is unclear. Previous case-control studies demonstrated conflicting results potentially due to the different etiologies of LC. LC patients with alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease-related metabolic disorders exhibit an increased risk of CAD. In contrast, hemostatic defects that occur in LC, such as thrombocytopenia, coagulopathy, and low blood pressure, are not considered as potential protective factors of cirrhosis against atherosclerotic events.

Research motivation

The results of CAD risk in LC patients are controversial. In contrast to the present study, previous works using alcoholic LC-based cohorts may have been confounded by the increased risk of metabolic syndrome in heavy drinkers. To the best of our knowledge, the risk of CAD in nonalcoholic cirrhotic patients is not well established.

Research objectives

The aim of the study was to elucidate the prevalence and risk of mortality in nonalcoholic cirrhotic patients. The comorbidities and LC-related complications were also important prognostic factors among cirrhotic patients. The result of this study can provide a better understanding of CAD risk in LC patients.

Research methods

We collected 10142 LC patients diagnosed from 2004 to 2011 using the Taiwanese National Health Insurance research database. After exclusion of subjects who were treated before the end of 2005, had alcoholic or biliary cirrhosis, had LC occurring after CAD, and were younger than 40 years old, a total of 3409 LC patients were enrolled in the study. The comorbidities and complications of LC were collected. The first-time diagnosis of CAD was identified as the primary end point, and the death of the subject served as the secondary end point. All-cause mortality was analyzed in both the study and control cohorts. A Cox proportional hazards model was developed to calculate the overall mortality hazard ratios of all comorbidities and complications in cirrhotic patients. The six-year cumulative survival and survival curve were calculated using the Cox regression method and the Kaplan-Meier method.

Research results

CAD was less prevalent in nonalcoholic LC patients than in controls. Nonalcoholic LC patients with CAD were associated with a reduced risk of mortality. The six-year survival rates were increased in patients with CAD compared to patients without CAD in the nonalcoholic LC cohort. As this is a retrospective cohort study, further prospective studies are needed to confirm this finding.

Research conclusions

In this study, we demonstrate that CAD is less prevalent and associated with a reduced risk for mortality in nonalcoholic LC patients. This result confirms previous studies regarding the lower risk for atherosclerotic events (i.e. ischemic stroke and coronary artery disease) in alcohol-related and nonalcohol-related LC cohorts. Although viral hepatitis can cause endothelial dysfunction, which correlates with atherosclerotic disease progression, we propose that LC has a more powerful protective effect against atherosclerotic events based on the favorable cardiovascular risk profiles, such as thrombocytopenia, coagulopathy, and low blood pressure. The strengths of the study include the large sample size cohort and risk adjustments for comorbidities and complications. Finally, we conclude that nonalcoholic LC patients with CAD exhibit a favorable outcome.

Research perspectives

Future prospective research should focus on the advantages and disadvantages of antiplatelet therapy in the prevention of CAD in nonalcoholic LC patients. Additionally, it is advised that future studies should compare alcoholic and nonalcoholic LC cohorts and evaluate the effect of viral treatment.

Footnotes

Manuscript source: Unsolicited manuscript

Specialty type: Gastroenterology and hepatology

Country of origin: Taiwan

Peer-review report classification

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Grade C (Good): C, C

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P- Reviewer: Chang ST, Ciccone MM, Posadas-Sánchez R S- Editor: Gong ZM L- Editor: Filipodia E- Editor: Huang Y

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