It is no surprise to many of us that obesity has swept our nation, and is quickly emerging in other developed countries across the world. More than two-thirds of the American population is considered overweight or obese. Obesity has a known link between many health related diseases, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and heart disease. NAFLD includes simple steatosis, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and cirrhosis. NAFLD is the most prevalent liver disease, affecting nearly 70-90% of the obese population (or those with type 2 diabetes). Therefore, NAFLD is an indication of metabolic syndrome, which is a group of factors that increase one’s risk of heart disease. Metabolic syndrome includes abdominal obesity, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, fasting glucose above 100 mg/dl, and hypertension.
A recent cross analysis of the Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity study made a discovery that links liver disease and heart disease to obese individuals. The prospective cohort study was population-based, 45% were men with an average age of 55.3 years old. To measure hepatic triglyceride content and LV diastolic heart function, each participant underwent magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy and MR imaging. Adjustments were made to consider age, heart rate, gender, alcohol and tobacco consumption, components of metabolic syndrome, and visceral adiposity attenuated crude observed associations.
The study concluded that fatty liver, at least in the obese population, poses a much higher risk of developing myocardial dysfunction, even more so than the already known risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. If you are overweight or obese, consider a consultation with your physician regarding the state of your health. As with any disease or adverse health condition, early treatment is crucial to the longevity of your health.