HCV Infection May Predict Coronary Artery Disease



NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. – Coronary artery disease was significantly more prevalent in patients with hepatitis C virus infection, compared with control subjects, based on a retrospective review. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.

"An association of coronary artery disease [CAD] with hepatitis C has been suggested, but definitive data are still lacking," said Dr. Sanjaya Satapathy, who conducted the study while at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

To estimate the prevalence of CAD in hepatitis C patients, Dr. Satapathy and his colleagues reviewed data from 934 individuals with hepatitis C infection who were seen at a single center between May 2002 and December 2008. Of these patients, 63 had undergone coronary angiography. The investigators compared their data with data from 63 matched controls without hepatitis C.

Overall severity of CAD according to the combined Reardon severity score was significantly greater in the hepatitis C virus (HCV) group than in the controls (6.3 vs. 2.6, respectively), suggesting that being HCV-positive increases the severity of, or risk for, CAD, Dr. Satapathy said.

The researchers defined CAD in two different ways for their analysis. CAD defined as stenosis greater than 50% was found in 44 of the HCV cases (70%) compared with 30 controls (48%). CAD defined as stenosis greater than 75% was found in 42 patients with hepatitis C (67%) compared with 29 controls (46%).

In addition, the prevalence of multivessel coronary artery disease was significantly higher in the HCV patients compared with the controls (57% vs. 16%, respectively). The prevalence of single-vessel involvement was greater in the control group.

"HCV seropositive status is a strong predictor for CAD," Dr. Satapathy said. However, "HCV patients are more likely to remain undertreated with antiplatelet and lipid-lowering agents," he noted.

The study was limited by the retrospective design and small sample size, said Dr. Satapathy. However, the findings suggest that CAD is significantly more common and severe in HCV-positive patients, and this should be considered by clinicians treating these patients, he said.

Dr. Satapathy said he had no financial conflicts to disclose.