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Am J Med. 2008 Jan;121(1):72-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2007.08.041.

Carotid artery intima-media thickness in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

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  • 1Centro Malattie Metaboliche del Fegato, Dipartimento Medicina Interna, Universit√† di Milano, Milano, Italy.



To evaluate, in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease with no or mild alterations of liver function tests, carotid artery intima-media thickness and the presence of plaques and to define determinants of vascular damage.


A paired-sample case-control study: 125 patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and 250 controls, without a prior diagnosis of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, matched for sex, age, and body mass index. B-mode ultrasound was used for evaluation of carotid intima-media thickness and presence of small plaques.


A significant difference in mean values of intima-media thickness (0.89+/-0.26 and 0.64+/-0.14 mm, P = .0001) and prevalence of plaques (26 [21%] and 15 [6%], P < .001) was observed in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease patients and controls. Variables significantly associated with intima-media thickness higher than 0.64 mm (median value in controls), in both patients and controls were: age (P = .0001), systolic blood pressure (P = .004), total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P < or = .02 and P = .01, respectively), fasting glucose (P = .0001), and cardiovascular risk (P = .0001) and, only in controls, metabolic syndrome (P = .0001), HOMA-insulin resistance (P = .01), and body mass index (P = .0003). At multivariate logistic regression performed in the overall series of subjects, independent risk predictors of intima-media thickness higher than 0.64 mm were presence of steatosis (odds ratio [OR] = 6.9), age (OR 6.0), and systolic blood pressure (OR 2.3).


Patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, even with no or mild alterations of liver tests, should be considered at high risk for cardiovascular complications.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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