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Transplantation. 1995 Mar 27;59(6):859-64.

The prevalence of coronary artery disease in liver transplant candidates over age 50.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio 44195, USA.


The prevalence of angiographically proven coronary artery disease (CAD) in adults with end-stage liver disease who undergo evaluation for liver transplantation is unknown; also it is unclear if cholestatic liver disease represents an independent risk factor. Patients with end-stage liver disease over age 50 having liver transplantation were studied using coronary angiography. Arterial stenosis was graded as normal, mild (< 30%), moderate (30 to 70%), or severe (> 70%). Risk factors for CAD were also assessed (male sex, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, family history of premature heart disease). Complications related to the angiography and decision making based on the findings were recorded. Thirty seven patients (23 females) with a median age of 61 years (range 50 to 71) underwent angiography. Thirteen patients (35.1%) had cholestatic liver disease. Thirty patients had no history of heart disease. The overall prevalence of severe coronary artery disease was 16.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 6.2% to 32.0%). No association was detected between CAD and cholestatic liver disease (P = 0.72). After eliminating seven patients with a prior history of angina (n = 1), myocardial infarction (n = 1), or coronary revascularization (n = 5), the frequency of moderate or severe CAD was 13.3% (95% CI = 3.8% to 30.7%). No association was detected between unsuspected CAD and cholestatic liver disease (P = 0.61). Diabetes was the most important risk factor for moderate or severe disease (P = 0.01). Patients without risk factors had significantly less CAD than the group as a whole regardless of the liver disease type (P = 0.02). Two patients experienced transient renal insufficiency after the angiography. Three patients with severe CAD were denied transplantation. We conclude that CAD represents a significant problem in patients over age 50 undergoing liver transplant evaluation. Cholestatic liver disease was not associated with a significantly higher prevalence of moderate or severe CAD in our population. Diabetes was the most predictive risk factor, and those without risk factors do not require extensive preoperative cardiac evaluation.

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