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Coronary Artery Plaque And Liver Disease Related, Study Finds

Update Date: Nov 04, 2014 09:41 AM EST

Researchers using coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) have found a close link between high-risk coronary artery plaque and a common liver disease, according to a new study. 

The study noted that a single CT exam can detect both conditions. 

In the study researchers looked at associations between high-risk plaque and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is one of the most common liver diseases, affecting around 2o percent to 30 percent of the general population. 

"As it is known that atherosclerosis is linked to inflammation, our next step was to look for an association of high-risk plaques with other systemic inflammatory conditions such as NAFLD," said the study's lead author, Stefan B. Puchner, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, in the press release. "Interestingly, both pathologies can be detected in a single CT examination."

High-risk plaque and NAFLD are both part of the same systemic disease process, the metabolic syndrome, according to the findings of the study. 

"The clinical implications could include a wider assessment of NAFLD using the non-contrast cardiac CT scans that are commonly performed prior to the CTA," Puchner said. "Further, the additional assessment of NAFLD with CT could improve the risk stratification of patients with suspected coronary artery disease, as our results show that the presence of NAFLD is associated with high-risk coronary plaque independent of traditional risk factors and severity of coronary artery disease."

"The aim will be to further investigate and understand, with the help of CCTA, the interplay between advanced atherosclerosis and NAFLD as part of a complex systemic inflammatory condition."

The study is published in the journal Radiology

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