Interactions of the heart and the liver


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Abstract

There is a mutual interaction between the function of the heart and the liver and a broad spectrum of acute and chronic entities that affect both the heart and the liver. These can be classified into heart diseases affecting the liver, liver diseases affecting the heart, and conditions affecting the heart and the liver at the same time. In chronic and acute cardiac hepatopathy, owing to cardiac failure, a combination of reduced arterial perfusion and passive congestion leads to cardiac cirrhosis and cardiogenic hypoxic hepatitis. These conditions may impair the liver function and treatment should be directed towards the primary heart disease and seek to secure perfusion of vital organs. In patients with advanced cirrhosis, physical and/or pharmacological stress may reveal a reduced cardiac performance with systolic and diastolic dysfunction and electrophysical abnormalities termed cirrhotic cardiomyopathy. Electrophysiological abnormalities include prolonged QT interval, chronotropic incompetance, and electromechanical uncoupling. No specific therapy can be recommended, but it should be supportive and directed against the heart failure. Numerous conditions affect both the heart and the liver such as infections, inflammatory and systemic diseases, and chronic alcoholism. The risk and prevalence of coronary artery disease are increasing in cirrhotic patients and since the perioperative mortality is high, a careful cardiac evaluation of such patients is required prior to orthotopic liver transplantation.

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