The effect of metabolic syndrome on chronic liver diseases other than non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has not been fully elucidated. Our goal was to evaluate if metabolic syndrome increased the risk of liver-related complications, specifically hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and decompensation, in cirrhotic chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 3503 consecutive cirrhotic CHC patients seen at Stanford University from 1997-2015. HCC developed in 238 patients (8-year incidence 21%) and hepatic decompensation in 448 patients (8-year incidence 61%). The incidence of HCC and decompensation increased with Hispanic ethnicity, diabetes, and number of metabolic risk factors. Multivariate Cox regression analysis demonstrated that, independent of HCV therapy and cure and other background risks, Hispanic ethnicity with =2 metabolic risk factors significantly increased the risk of HCC and hepatic decompensation. There was no interaction between Hispanic ethnicity and metabolic risk factors. All in all, metabolic risk factors significantly increase the risk of liver-related complications in cirrhotic CHC patients, especially HCC among Hispanics. As the prevalence of metabolic syndrome increases globally, targeted health interventions are needed to help curb the effects of metabolic syndrome in CHC patients.
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