Fatty liver disease and heart disease have been found to have a bi-directional association. The researchers found that not only can fatty liver disease increase the risk of heart disease, but the association works the other way around, too, meaning, heart disease can increase the risk of fatty liver.
Fatty liver disease cases are on the rise as obesity rates are climbing. Fatty liver disease has become the most common form of liver disease, affecting 20 to 30 percent of adults. Obesity is a risk factor not only for fatty liver disease, but for heart disease, too. Previous studies have found an association between the two conditions, but whether it was fatty liver disease that caused heart disease – or heart disease that caused fatty liver disease – was unclear.
The study found that patients with liver disease had more risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. On the other hand, those with these heart disease risk factors were at a higher risk for developing liver disease.
Corresponding author Michelle Long explained, “In our study, we observed a bi-directional association between fatty liver and cardiovascular disease. We observed that fatty liver was an important factor in the development of high blood pressure and diabetes, and the opposite also stands true – various cardiovascular diseases were associated with the development of fatty liver disease over six years.”
There are lifestyle habits that can work to improve not only fatty liver disease, but cardiovascular disease as well. These include losing weight, avoiding or monitoring your alcohol intake, not smoking, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, reducing sodium intake, managing high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and being mindful of the medications you are taking.
Not only will these changes help better manage both conditions, but if made part of your daily life, these can work as great preventative measures for those who haven’t been diagnosed with either condition yet.