Subclinical Cardiovascular Damage in Patients With HCV Cirrhosis Before and After Treatment With Direct Antiviral Agents

A Prospective Study

Giuseppina Novo; Francesca Macaione; Lydia Giannitrapani; Maria Giovanna Minissale; Vito Bonomo; Francesco Indovina; Salvatore Petta; Maurizio Soresi; Giuseppe Montalto; Salvatore Novo; Antonio Craxi; Anna Licata


Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2018;48(7):740-749. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Cirrhosis is associated with morpho-functional cardiovascular alterations.

Aims: To detect early features of cardiovascular damage in HCV-compensated cirrhotic patients using myocardial deformation indices and carotid arterial stiffness, and, further, to evaluate their short-term behaviour after HCV eradication with direct antiviral agents (DAAs).

Methods: Thirty-nine consecutive patients with HCV cirrhosis, without previous cardiovascular events, were studied and matched for age, gender and cardiovascular risk factors to 39 controls without liver or cardiovascular disease. Patients and controls underwent a baseline echocardiographic evaluation including global longitudinal strain and ultrasound scan of carotid arteries. HCV-cirrhotics were reassessed by echocardiography and carotid ultrasound after obtaining sustained virological response (SVR) on DAAs.

Results: HCV-cirrhotics showed at baseline a significantly reduced global longitudinal strain compared to controls −18.1 (16.3-20.5) vs −21.2 (20.4-22.3), P < 0.001. They also had a significantly higher pulse wave velocity 8.6 (7.7-9.1) m/s vs 6.6 (6.0-7.1) m/s, P = 0.0001, and β-stiffness index 12.4 (11.1-13.5) vs 8.6 (8.0-9.2) P = 0.0001. At multiple regression analysis, diabetes and HCV cirrhosis were independent predictors of global longitudinal strain. All HCV-cirrhotic patients had SVR on DAAs. Follow-up available in 32 of 39 (82%) at 9 (8-10) months showed a significant improvement of tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion (P = 0.01) and lateral E' velocity compared to baseline (P = 0.001).

Conclusions: HCV-cirrhotics show a significant rate of subclinical cardiac and vascular abnormalities. At a time when their survival is less linked to progression of liver disease, due to viral eradication on DAAs, cardiovascular morbidity and mortality may take a significant role.