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Clin Sci (Lond). 2013 Sep;125(6):301-9. doi: 10.1042/CS20130036.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is associated with an increased prevalence of atrial fibrillation in hospitalized patients with type 2 diabetes.

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Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, University and Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata of Verona, Verona, Italy.


NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) and AF (atrial fibrillation) are two pathological conditions that are highly prevalent in developed countries and share multiple risk factors. The relationship between NAFLD and AF in Type 2 diabetes is currently unknown. We studied a hospital-based sample of 702 patients with Type 2 diabetes discharged from our Division of Endocrinology during 2007-2011. The diagnosis of AF was confirmed in affected participants on the basis of ECGs and medical history by experienced cardiologists. NAFLD was defined by ultrasonographic detection of hepatic steatosis in the absence of other liver diseases. Of the 702 hospitalized patients included in the study, 514 (73.2%) of them had NAFLD and 85 (12.1%) had persistent or permanent AF. NAFLD was associated with an increased risk of prevalent AF {OR (odds ratio), 3.04 [95% CI (confidence interval), 1.54-6.02]; P<0.001}. Adjustments for age, sex, systolic BP (blood pressure), HbA1c, (glycated haemoglobin), estimated GFR (glomerular filtration rate), total cholesterol, electrocardiographic LVH (left ventricular hypertrophy), COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and prior history of HF (heart failure), VHD (valvular heart disease) or hyperthyroidism did not attenuate the association between NAFLD and AF [adjusted OR, 5.88 (95% CI, 2.72-12.7); P<0.001]. In conclusion, our results show that ultrasound-diagnosed NAFLD is strongly associated with an increased prevalence of persistent or permanent AF in patients with Type 2 diabetes, independently of several clinical risk factors for AF. The potential impact of NAFLD on AF deserves particular attention, especially with respect to the implications for screening and surveillance strategies in the growing number of patients with NAFLD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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