Atrial fibrillation is highly prevalent yet undertreated in patients with biopsy-proven nonalcoholic steatohepatitis

Maureen Whitsett, Jane Wilcox, Amy Yang, Lihui Zhao, Mary Rinella, Lisa B. VanWagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is associated with increased cardiovascular disease. Atrial fibrillation is a prominent risk marker for underlying cardiovascular disease with a prevalence of 2% in patients <65 years old. Atrial fibrillation prevalence in NASH is unknown. We sought to assess the prevalence and impact of atrial fibrillation on healthcare utilization in NASH. Methods: Patients were identified from a tertiary care centre Electronic Database from 2002 to 2015. International Classification of Diseases 9 (ICD9) codes identified comorbidities and atrial fibrillation. Descriptive statistics were used to compare characteristics between patients with NASH with and without atrial fibrillation. Results: Of 9108 patients with ICD9 diagnosis of NASH, 215 (2.3%, mean age 57 years, 32% male) had biopsy-proven NASH. Atrial fibrillation prevalence was 4.6%. Patients with NASH and atrial fibrillation had a higher prevalence of heart failure (54.5% vs 8.8%, P < 0.001) and cerebrovascular (27.3% vs 2.0%, P < 0.001) or vascular disease (54.5% vs 13.2%, P = 0.002), compared to NASH without atrial fibrillation. All patients with NASH and atrial fibrillation had a CHA2DS2VASc score ≥2 indicating high stroke risk and need for anticoagulation. Eight of 10 patients were eligible for anticoagulation and 5 of 8 (62.5%) received appropriate therapy. Conclusion: Atrial fibrillation prevalence is two-fold higher in patients with NASH compared to the general population. Patients with NASH have a high risk of stroke; however, many do not receive appropriate guideline-directed therapy. Future studies are needed to identify whether guideline-based management of atrial fibrillation in NASH reduces cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-940
Number of pages8
JournalLiver International
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • NASH
  • arrhythmia
  • cardiovascular disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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