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The 3-Way Connection Between Liver and Heart Health
Did you know that your liver and heart are connected? Find out three ways how!
While it may seem like the heart and liver are two organs that are so distinctly different that the health of one wouldn’t likely affect the health of the other, the opposite is actually true.
In fact, there are three connections between heart and liver health:
- the way the heart impacts the liver
- how the liver affects the hear
- and joint conditions affecting both important organs.
How the Heart Impacts the Liver
Some heart-related issues can lead to liver disease. Among them are congestive hepatopathy and cardiogenic ischemic hepatitis. (1)
- Congestive hepatopathy, also known as chronic passive hepatic congestion, is caused by poor blood flow to the liver due to reduced cardiac output from cardiovascular disease. Or, in some cases, heart failure.
- Cardiogenic ischemic hepatitis is a result of heart issues that cause a short but rapid increase in serum transaminase levels, also negatively impacting blood flow to the liver.
The Liver’s Effects on the Heart
Not only does the heart impact the liver, but the liver also affects the heart. Liver dysfunction in the form of cirrhotic cardiomyopathy or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) can lead to heart dysfunction, with heart dysfunction also sometimes occurring as a result of liver transplantation. (1)
In cirrhotic cardiomyopathy, a person with cirrhosis experiences cardiac issues but with no diagnosed heart disease. These cardiac issues may be present both while at rest and during times of high stress. (2)
NAFLD is another liver disease that can negatively affect heart function, increasing one’s risk, of arrhythmia, coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart failure. (3)
Research has also found that individuals who’ve had a liver transplant have a higher risk of coronary artery disease, with their risk being between 16.2% and 27% compared to a 6% risk for the general population. (4) This highlights the importance of testing a patient’s cardiac health before undergoing liver transplantation.
Conditions with Joint Liver and Heart Issues
A third connection between liver and heart health exists not from a disease in one leading to a disease in the other, but when some other condition exists that harms both of these organs.
One example is metabolic syndrome. People with this condition have an increased risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which can lead to heart attack or stroke. (5) Metabolic conditions can also contribute to the development of chronic liver issues, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. (6)
Other conditions that can affect the heart and liver include infections, immune system disorders, and toxic disorders. (7) The latter refers to brain disorders caused by exposure to high levels of toxins such as mercury, alcohol, drugs, and other harmful substances.
Tips for Better Heart Health
Boosting your heart health can help improve your liver health.
The American Heart Association provides several tips for achieving this goal, some of which include: (8)
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Consuming healthy proteins, mainly from plant and seafood sources
- Reducing your consumption of processed foods
- Limiting salt and added sugar intake
- Getting more physical activity
- Cutting down on alcohol
Ways to Improve Liver Health
There are also things you can do to increase your liver health, thereby promoting heart health in return.
The American Liver Foundation shares many strategies for doing this, such as: (9)
- Get and stay at a healthy weight
- Eat fewer foods that are high in saturated fat, refined carbs, and sugar
- Eat more dairy and healthy fats
- Stay hydrated
- Exercise regularly
- Limit exposure to toxins, including cleaning chemicals, smoking, and insecticides
- Stay away from illicit drugs and reduce alcohol consumption
- Practice safe sex
- Don’t share needles or personal hygiene items
- Get vaccinated to protect against hepatitis A and B
It may also be helpful to take a dietary supplement. For example, supplementing with vitamin E is associated with improvements in NAFLD. (10) Other studies have found that milk thistle can improve liver function in people with liver disease. (11)
LiverSupport.com offers access to a variety of liver supplements. This enables you to choose the ones that are best suited to your health conditions and liver-related concerns.
(1) Hadi, H., Di Vincenzo, A., Vettor, R., Rossato, M. (2020, February 28). Relationship Between Heart Disease and Liver Disease: A Two-Way Street. Cells. doi:10.3390/cells9030567
(2) Wiese, S., Hove, J., Bendtsen, F., Møller, S. (2014, March). Cirrhotic Cardiomyopathy: Pathogenesis and Clinical Relevance. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology. doi:10.1038/nrgastro.2013.210
(3) Przybyszewski, E., Targher, G., Roden, M. (2021, February 01). Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Cardiovascular Disease. Clinical Liver Disease. doi:10.1002.cld.1017
(4) Sharma, V., Kleb, C., Sheth, C., et al. (2022, January). Cardiac Considerations in Liver Transplantation. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. doi:10.3949/ccjm.89a.21006
(5) Mayo Clinic. (2021, May 06). Metabolic syndrome. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/metabolic-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20351916
(6) Ren, H., Wang, J., Gao, Y., Yang, F., Huang, W. (2019, April 25). Metabolic Syndrome and Liver-Related Events: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. BMC Endocrine Disorders. doi:10.1186/s12902-019-0366-3
(7) Naschitz, J., Slobodin, G., Lewis, R., Zuckerman, E., Yeshurum, D. (2000). Heart Diseases Affecting the Liver and Liver Diseases Affecting the Heart. American Heart Journal. doi:10.1067/mhj.2000.107177
(8) American Heart Association. (n.d.). The Ten Ways to Improve Your Heart Health Infographic. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/the-ten-ways-to-improve-your-heart-health
(9) American Liver Foundation. (2021, June 24). 13 Ways to a Healthy Liver. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://liverfoundation.org/resource-center/blog/13-ways-to-a-healthy-liver/
(10) Hannah Jr., W., Harrison, S. (2016). Lifestyle and Dietary Interventions in the Management of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Digestive Diseases and Sciences. doi:10.1007/s10620-016-4153-y
(11) Mount Sinai. (n.d.). Milk Thistle. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/milk-thistle