BACKGROUND & AIMS: Chronic liver disease (CLD) is associated with increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. We investigated whether early signs of liver disease (measured by iron-corrected T1-mapping [cT1]) were associated with an increased risk of major CVD events. METHODS: Liver disease activity (cT1) and fat (proton density fat fraction [PDFF]) were measured using LiverMultiScan® between January 2016 and February 2020 in the UK Biobank imaging sub-study. Using multivariable Cox regression, we explored associations between liver cT1 (MRI) and primary CVD (coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation [AF], embolism/vascular events, heart failure [HF] and stroke), and CVD hospitalisation and all-cause mortality. Liver blood biomarkers, general metabolism biomarkers, and demographics were also included. Subgroup analysis was conducted in those without metabolic syndrome (defined as at least three of: a large waist, high triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, increased systolic blood pressure, or elevated haemoglobin A1c). RESULTS: A total of 33,616 participants (mean age 65 years, mean BMI 26 kg/m2, mean haemoglobin A1c 35 mmol/mol) had complete MRI liver data with linked clinical outcomes (median time to major CVD event onset: 1.4 years [range: 0.002-5.1]; follow-up: 2.5 years [range:1.1-5.2]). Liver disease activity (cT1), but not liver fat (PDFF), was associated with higher risk of any major CVD event (hazard ratio 1.14; 95% CI 1.03-1.26; p = 0.008), AF (1.30; 1.12-1.51; p <0.001); HF (1.30; 1.09-1.56; p= 0.004); CVD hospitalisation (1.27; 1.18-1.37; p <0.001) and all-cause mortality (1.19; 1.02-1.38; p = 0.026). FIB-4 index was associated with HF (1.06; 1.01-1.10; p = 0.007). Risk of CVD hospitalisation was independently associated with cT1 in individuals without metabolic syndrome (1.26; 1.13-1.4; p <0.001). CONCLUSION: Liver disease activity, by cT1, was independently associated with a higher risk of incident CVD and all-cause mortality, independent of pre-existing metabolic syndrome, liver fibrosis or fat. IMPACT AND IMPLICATIONS: Chronic liver disease (CLD) is associated with a twofold greater incidence of cardiovascular disease. Our work shows that early liver disease on iron-corrected T1 mapping was associated with a higher risk of major cardiovascular disease (14%), cardiovascular disease hospitalisation (27%) and all-cause mortality (19%). These findings highlight the prognostic relevance of a comprehensive evaluation of liver health in populations at risk of CVD and/or CLD, even in the absence of clinical manifestations or metabolic syndrome, when there is an opportunity to modify/address risk factors and prevent disease progression. As such, they are relevant to patients, carers, clinicians, and policymakers.
Atrial fibrilliation, CVD, Cardiac, Heart failure, Hepatic, Liver disease, MRI, NAFLD, imaging