For their study, researchers looked at links between coronary artery plaque and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

"The clinical implications could include a wider assessment of NAFLD using the non-contrast cardiac CT scans that are commonly performed prior to the CCTA," said Stefan B Puchner from the Massachusetts General Hospital in US.

NAFLD is the most common liver disease, with an estimated prevalence of 20 percent to 30 percent in the general population.

The researchers drew patients from a large group of people, who had come to the emergency department with acute chest pain and focused on the use of CCTA.

The patients underwent both non-enhanced CT to assess coronary calcium, a marker of atherosclerosis, and contrast-enhanced CCTA. Readers assessed the CCTA images for signs of high-risk plaque.

Overall, 182 of the 445 patients in the study, or 40.9 percent, had CT evidence of NAFLD, found the study.

High-risk plaque was seen in 59.3 percent of patients with NAFLD, compared to only 19 percent of those without NAFLD, the study pointed out.

The high-risk plaque and NAFLD are both part of the same systemic disease process, the metabolic syndrome, suggested the study.

The aim will be to further investigate and understand, with the help of CCTA, the interplay between advanced atherosclerosis and NAFLD as part of a complex systemic inflammatory condition, concluded Puchner.

The study was published in the journal Radiology.

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