VIENNA – Patients with cirrhosis and undergoing work-up for a possible liver transplant who had low cardiac reserve had a nearly fourfold increased rate of developing hepatorenal syndrome (HRS) during an average 17 months of follow-up, compared with patients with normal cardiac reserve, in a review of 560 Australian patients assessed for a possible liver transplant.
The findings suggest that patients with advanced liver disease should routinely undergo assessment for low cardiac reserve,, said at the meeting sponsored by the European Association for the Study of the Liver.
said Dr. Koshy, a cardiologist with Austin Health in Melbourne. “We propose that it’s not low cardiac output that leads to HRS, but an inability of patients to increase their cardiac output” in response to usual stimuli.
The findings also add to the concerns about using nonselective beta-blocker drugs in patients with cirrhosis because of the potential of these drugs to further blunt increases in cardiac output; they also suggest that noninvasive measurement of cardiac reserve could identify patients with low cardiac reserve who could benefit from closer monitoring and new approaches to treatment, he suggested. About 10%-30% of patients with cirrhosis develop HRS, and the new finding suggests a noninvasive way to identify patients with the highest risk for this complication.
The study included 560 consecutive patients with cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease who were awaiting a liver transplant at the Victoria Liver Transplant Unit in Melbourne and underwent assessment by stress echocardiography using low-dose dobutamine (10 mcg/kg per min) during 2010-2017 as part of their standard pretransplant work-up. Exclusion of patients with known cardiac disease prior to their stress echo examination or incomplete measurement left 488 patients, of whom 424 were free from HRS at baseline. Patients with HRS at the time of their stress echo assessment had on average a cardiac output that was about 25% higher than patients without HRS, a statistically significant difference driven by both a significantly increased heart rate and stroke volume.
Among the 424 patients free from HRS at baseline, 85 developed HRS during an average 17-month follow-up. Patients with low cardiac reserve after dobutamine challenge, defined as an increase in cardiac output of less than 25%, had a 3.9-fold increased rate of incident HRS during follow-up, compared with patients who had a larger rise in their cardiac output after adjustment for several clinical and echocardiographic baseline variables, Dr. Koshy reported. In this analysis low cardiac reserve was the strongest predictor of subsequent HRS, he said.
Dr. Koshy had no disclosures.
SOURCE: Koshy AN et al. J Hepatol. 2019 April; .