The results of this study appear in the May 2006 issue of Hepatology, the official journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hepatology is available online via Wiley InterScience at http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/hepatology.
NAFLD, a condition affecting up to 30 percent of the adult U.S. population, is strongly associated with predictors of heart disease, such as high cholesterol, insulin resistance, obesity and central fat distribution. Patients with NAFLD are therefore expected to have an increased risk of heart disease. However, whether or not this is the case has not been well studied to date.
Led by George Ioannou, M.D., M.S. of the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, WA, researchers analyzed whether patients with suspected NAFLD who did not have viral hepatitis or consume excessive amounts of alcohol had an elevated risk of heart disease. The basis used to calculate heart disease risk was the Framingham Risk Score, a scale that takes into account age, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking to predict the 10-year risk of developing heart disease. The presence of NAFLD was determined by measuring levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT), an enzyme present in liver and heart cells that is elevated when these organs are damaged. Among the study's 7,526 patients without viral hepatitis or excessive alcohol use, 267 patients had elevated ALT activity. Researchers also analyzed 855 patients who had hepatitis or increased alcohol consumption (two po
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