Patients with type 2 diabetes may see a "moderately increased" risk of heart disease if they have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The study involved 2103 individuals with type 2 diabetes, who were heart disease- free at the study's outset.
During the 5-year follow-up period, the researchers found that 248 patients developed nonfatal coronary heart disease. The condition was defined as having a nonfatal heart attack or needing a heart bypass or angioplasty. Participants in this group also suffered a stroke or died of cardiovascular causes. By comparison, 496 participants in the control group showed no heart disease.
The Italian researchers reported that individuals with fatty liver disease that was not the result of alcohol abuse had an 84% higher probability of developing heart disease.The researchers concluded that "the casual detection of nonalcoholic liver disease on an ultrasound" in patients with type 2 diabetes should alert physicians "to the coexistence of multiple underlying cardiovascular risk factors warranting evaluation and treatment as much as the risk for advancing liver disease." (The findings were reported in Diabetes, December 2005.)