Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an emerging risk factor for incident heart failure (HF). It is currently unknown whether NAFLD predicts all-cause mortality in patients admitted for acute HF. We aimed to assess whether NAFLD and its severity (diagnosed by ultrasonography and non-invasive fibrosis biomarkers) were associated with increased all-cause mortality in this particularly high-risk patient population.
We studied 264 elderly patients, who were consecutively admitted for acute HF to the hospital between years 2013 and 2015, after excluding those with acute myocardial infarction, severe valvular heart diseases, kidney failure, cancer, cirrhosis of any etiology or known chronic liver diseases. Follow-up of patients continued until November 1, 2017.
Over a mean follow-up of 23.2 months (range: 1 day-58 months), there were 140 (53%) total deaths. Of these, 24 deaths occurred during the first hospital admission (in-hospital death) and 116 deaths occurred after the hospital discharge during the follow-up period. Patients with NAFLD at hospital admission had significantly higher cumulative incidence rates of in-hospital and post-discharge all-cause mortality (singly or in combination) compared with those without NAFLD. This mortality risk was particularly high among patients with advanced NAFLD fibrosis. In Cox regression analysis, NAFLD was associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality (adjusted-hazard ratio 1.82, 95% confidence intervals 1.22-2.81, p < 0.005) even after adjustment for established risk factors and potential confounding variables.
NAFLD and its severity were independently associated with increased risk of in-hospital and post-discharge all-cause mortality in elderly patients admitted for acute HF.