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The silent liver disease that’s worse on your heart
Right at this very moment, there’s a one in four chance that you’re living with a health condition that’s setting you up for cardiovascular problems — and you don’t even know it.
In other words, you could have a 25 percent higher risk for heart attack or stroke — even though that “other condition” has nothing at all to do with your heart itself.
That’s because research is finding that an increasingly common liver disease can damage the heart before you even know you have it…
How NAFLD damages the heart
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a silent disease that can produce few to no symptoms for years. However, a small percentage of cases can progress to NASH and cirrhosis.
For the most part, diet and exercise can keep it in check, and most people can live their lives without any complications from it. Or so we thought…
News research has revealed NAFLD is a surprising threat to your heart — and the damage it does can start frighteningly early on in the course of the disease.
Investigators at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai saw this first hand when they compared patients’ FIB-4 scores — a marker for liver fibrosis that can indicate risk of developing severe liver disease — with heart abnormalities visible through cardiac MRI scans.
They found that elevated FIB-4 scores were clearly associated with abnormalities in heart function and vascular dimension.
“Typically, when physicians examine the heart, we aren’t thinking about the liver, and vice versa. We tend to be very specialized in our own organ categories,” says Kwan. “But this study’s findings indicate that we can and should screen for liver conditions when looking at heart conditions — we can’t view the heart and the liver as completely separate organs functioning on their own islands.”
In other words, small liver problems can lead to big heart dangers.
Support your liver health to protect your heart
So if poor liver health can set you up for major heart trouble, should you be concerned?
To know the answer to that question you need to gauge your risk for NAFLD, and that includes these criteria:
- Overweight or obese (this is a tricky one, and I’ll explain below)
- Insulin resistance (not yet diabetic but too many sugar spikes have desensitized how your cells take up sugar in response to the hormone insulin)
- High blood sugar
- High levels of fat in your blood
Now about the obesity factor…
Yes, no doubt it is a risk factor for liver disease, but in a review of 10,000 adults with NAFLD, there were lean patients with the disease. The good news for them? They had a lower risk of cirrhosis, diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol issues.
The bad news? Lean patients with NAFLD had a significantly higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease, independent of age, sex, race, smoking status, diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia.
I’m already at a higher risk for heart trouble because of my family history, so I’ve done the research and made caring for my liver part of my heart health regimen.
See, your liver carries out over 500 vital functions, including filtering toxins, chemicals and fat from the bloodstream. If it’s overworked, it can be overwhelmed by the buildup of fat — and too much liver fat is exactly what leads to NAFLD.
So in addition to trying my best to eat a Mediterranean-style diet that both my liver and my heart can appreciate, I include liver-loving nutrients, most importantly, alpha lipoic acid (ALA), an antioxidant that helps promote healthy levels of fat in the liver, into my routine.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!
Even early forms of liver disease affect heart health – ScienceDaily