FIB-4 May Help Select Candidates for Heart Failure Tests

A noninvasive test for liver disease may be a useful, low-cost screening tool to select asymptomatic candidates for a detailed examination of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), say authors of a report published in Gastro Hep Advances.

The fibrosis-4 (FIB-4) index was a significant predictor of high HFpEF risk, wrote Chisato Okamoto, MD, of the department of medical biochemistry at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine and the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Japan, and colleagues.

“Recognition of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction at an early stage in mass screening is desirable, but difficult to achieve,” the authors wrote. “The FIB-4 index is calculated using only four parameters that are routinely evaluated in general health check-up programs.”

HFpEF is an emerging disease in recent years with a poor prognosis, they wrote. Early diagnosis can be challenging for several reasons, particularly because HFpEF patients are often asymptomatic until late in the disease process and have normal left ventricular filling pressures at rest. By using a tool to select probable cases from subclinical participants in a health check-up program, clinicians can refer patients for a diastolic stress test, which is considered the gold standard for diagnosing HFpEF.

Previous studies have found that the FIB-4 index, a noninvasive tool to estimate liver stiffness and fibrosis, is associated with a higher risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) in patients with HFpEF. In addition, patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) have a twofold higher prevalence of HFpEF than the general population.

Dr. Okamoto and colleagues examined the association between the FIB-4 index and HFpEF risk based on the Heart Failure Association’s diagnostic algorithm for HFpEF in patients with breathlessness (HFA-PEFF). The researchers looked at the prognostic impact of the FIB-4 index in 710 patients who participated in a health check-up program in the rural community of Arita-cho, Japan, between 2006 and 2007. They excluded participants with a history of cardiovascular disease or reduced left ventricular systolic function (LVEF < 50%). Researchers calculated the FIB-4 index and HFA-PEFF score for all participants.

First, using the HFA-PEFF scores, the researchers sorted participants into five groups by HFpEF risk: 215 (30%) with zero points, 100 (14%) with 1 point, 171 (24%) with 2 points, 163 (23%) with 3 points, and 61 (9%) with 4-6 points. Participants in the high-risk group (scores 4-6) were older, mostly men, and had higher blood pressure, alcohol intake, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and liver disease. The higher the HFpEF risk group, the higher the rates of all-cause mortality, hospitalization for heart failure, and MACE.

Overall, the FIB-4 index was correlated with the HFpEF risk groups and showed a stepwise increase across the groups, with .94 for the low-risk group, 1.45 for the intermediate-risk group, and 1.99 for the high-risk group, the authors wrote. The FIB-4 index also correlated with markers associated with components of the HFA-PEFF scoring system.

Using multivariate logistic regression analysis, the FIB-4 index was associated with a high HFpEF risk, and an increase in FIB-4 was associated with increased odds of high HFpEF risk. The association remained significant across four separate models that accounted for risk factors associated with lifestyle-related diseases, blood parameters associated with liver disease, and chronic conditions such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes mellitus, and liver disease.

In additional area under the curve (AUC) analyses, the FIB-4 index was a significant predictor of high HFpEF risk. At cutoff values typically used for advanced liver fibrosis in NAFLD, a FIB-4 cutoff of 1.3 or less had a sensitivity of 85.2%, while a FIB-4 cutoff of 2.67 or higher had a specificity of 94.8%. At alternate cutoff values typically used for patients with HIV/hepatitis C virus infection, a FIB-4 cutoff of less than 1.45 had a sensitivity of 75.4%, while a FIB-4 cutoff of greater than 3.25 had a specificity of 98%.

Using cutoffs of 1.3 and 2.67, a higher FIB-4 was associated with higher rates of clinical events and MACE, as well as a higher HFpEF risk. Using the alternate cutoffs of 1.45 and 3.25, prognostic stratification of clinical events and MACE was also possible.

When all variables were included in the multivariate model, the FIB-4 index remained a significant prognostic predictor. The FIB-4 index stratified clinical prognosis was also an independent predictor of all-cause mortality and hospitalization for heart failure.

Although additional studies are needed to reveal the interaction between liver and heart function, the study authors wrote, the findings provide valuable insights that can help discover the cardiohepatic interaction to reduce the development of HFpEF.

“Since it can be easily, quickly, and inexpensively measured, routine or repeated measurements of the FIB-4 index could help in selecting preferred candidates for detailed examination of HFpEF risk, which may improve clinical outcomes by diagnosing HFpEF at an early stage,” they wrote.

The study was supported by grants from the Osaka Medical Research Foundation for Intractable Disease, the Japan Arteriosclerosis Prevention Fund, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and the Japan Heart Foundation. The authors disclosed no conflicts.

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