Background: In Taiwan, subjects over 65 years old have higher prevalence of hepatitis C. Among these patients, around 50% have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Since cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are main causes of death in this age group, in this cross-sectional study, we tried to evaluate the effects of NAFLD and hepatitis C on the risk of metabolic syndrome (MetS).
Methods: In total, 25 116 subjects over 65 years old who presented for routine health check-ups were enrolled. From the results of seropositivity for hepatitis C and abnormal echogenicity, they were classified into four groups: normal (N), subjects with only hepatitis C (C), subjects with only abnormal echogenicity (E) and subjects with both hepatitis C and abnormal echogenicity (CE).
Results: Subjects in both groups E and CE had higher abnormal MetS components than group C. Among all five components, triglyceride (TG) was the one having the highest odds ratio (OR) in determining the incidence of MetS in groups C and E. Finally, compared to group N, both groups E and CE had significantly higher OR for having MetS. However, after adjusting for confounding factors, only the significance between groups E and N remained. In other words, higher MetS was noted in group E compared to group N and there was no difference in incidence of MetS between group CE and group N.
Conclusions: Chronic hepatitis C is a protective factor against having MetS and this effect might be due to lower TG level in the elderly. Further studies are warranted for the underlying mechanisms.