Published online Mar 27, 2015. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v7.i3.507
Peer-review started: September 11, 2014
First decision: November 3, 2014
Revised: December 1, 2014
Accepted: December 16, 2014
Article in press: December 16, 2014
Published online: March 27, 2015
Cirrhotic cardiomyopathy is a disease that has only recently been recognised as a definitive clinical entity. In the setting of liver cirrhosis, it is characterized by a blunted inotropic and chronotropic response to stress, impaired diastolic relaxation of the myocardium and prolongation of the QT interval in the absence of other known cardiac disease. A key pathological feature is the persistent over-activation of the sympathetic nervous system in cirrhosis, which leads to down-regulation and dysfunction of the β-adrenergic receptor. Diagnosis can be made using a combination of echocardiography (resting and stress), tissue Doppler imaging, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, 12-lead electrocardiogram and measurement of biomarkers. There are significant implications of cirrhotic cardiomyopathy in a number of clinical situations in which there is an increased physiological demand, which can lead to acute cardiac decompensation and heart failure. Prior to transplantation there is an increased risk of hepatorenal syndrome, cardiac failure following transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt insertion and increased risk of arrhythmias during acute gastrointestinal bleeding. Liver transplantation presents the greatest physiological challenge with a further risk of acute cardiac decompensation. Peri-operative management should involve appropriate choice of graft and minimization of large fluctuations in preload and afterload. The avoidance of cardiac failure during this period has important prognostic implications, as there is evidence to suggest a long-term resolution of the abnormalities in cirrhotic cardiomyopathy.
Core tip: Cirrhotic cardiomyopathy is characterised by a blunted inotropic and chronotropic response to stress, impaired diastolic relaxation and prolongation of the QT interval. It is only recently that it has been recognised as a definitive clinical entity, and yet it has significant implications in a number of clinical situations in which there is increased physiological demand, which can lead to acute cardiac decompensation and heart failure. Liver transplantation is one such situation, and in this review we discuss criteria for diagnosis, possible methods to limit further deterioration and the perioperative management of these patients.