Background: The red blood cell distribution width (RDW) has been reported to be a risk marker of morbidity and mortality for cardiovascular diseases in various study populations. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is also a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. However, the relationship between RDW and NAFLD is less certain.
Patients and methods: RDW was determined using a Coulter counter together with the hemoglobin level in 1637 normal control individuals and 619 NAFLD patients who were consecutively referred by general practitioners for routine medical check-up. The total plasma cholesterol, plasma triglyceride, and fasting glucose were determined using a multichannel analyzer, and BMI, systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and the incidence of hypertension and coronary artery disease were measured using statistical analysis.
Results: Patients with NAFLD had a higher RDW, BMI, waist to hip ratio, SBP and DBP, fasting glucose, triglycerides, and hypertension incidence (P<0.01), and were also younger (P<0.01). NAFLD was considered as a dependent variable, whereas age, sex, BMI, waist to hip ratio, RDW, hemoglobin, SBP and DBP, fasting glucose, total cholesterol, triglyceride, and hypertension were considered as covariate variables. We found that age (β=−0.031, P<0.01), BMI (β=0.265, P<0.01), waist to hip ratio (β=6.166, P<0.01), RDW (β=0.154, P<0.01), fasting plasma glucose (β=0.301, P<0.01), and triglyceride (β=0.222, P<0.01) were significantly associated with the risk for NAFLD, analyzed by binary logistic regression analysis.
Conclusion: Patients with NAFLD were more likely to have high levels of RDW. Moreover, NAFLD was associated with age, BMI, RDW, fasting plasma glucose, and triglyceride. If confirmed in future follow-up studies, this association might provide a rationale to introduce the easy, inexpensive RDW in algorithms for NAFLD risk prediction.