What is NAFLD?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition that develops because of fat accumulation in the liver not due to alcohol. An excess of fat cells within the liver can be toxic and may lead to serious irreversible damage.
NAFLD affects close to 30% of people world-wide. The more serious form of fatty liver, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) affects over 12% of people around the world.
What are the symptoms of fatty liver disease?
Symptoms of fatty liver are often vague or non-existent. Some people may complain of right upper quadrant abdominal pain or fullness. Others complain of gastrointestinal issues to include nausea and/or bloating.
Most people do not have any symptoms at all. The diagnosis is often made incidentally or due to abnormal liver associated blood test values.
What are the risk factors for NAFLD?
- Type 2 diabetes or insulin reference
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Older age
What is NASH?
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) may be considered as the more severe form of fatty liver. NASH occurs when fat within the liver begins to increase and ultimately causes excessive inflammation, destruction, and injury to the native liver cells. The injury may lead to significant liver scarring commonly referred to as fibrosis. Fibrosis over time can worsen resulting in cirrhosis.
How is NASH treated?
Weight loss and healthy lifestyle remain the cornerstone of management for NAFLD. Optimal control of underlying risk factors is also crucial. Although vitamin E and some diabetic drugs (pioglitazones) have shown promise in reducing inflammation and scarring, a commercially available NAFLD treatment has not been discovered. Participation in clinical trials helps research scientists to discover treatments for this condition.
Are there different stages of NASH?
- Stage 0 – No scarring or fibrosis
- Stage 1 – Mild or early scarring
- Stage 2 – Intermediate scarring
- Stage 3 – Advanced scarring
- Stage 4 – Cirrhosis or maximal scarring
“NASH can progress quietly resulting in cirrhosis which may cause the liver to fail”, said Dr. Gunn
How can I check to see if I have issues with my liver?
FibroScan is a painless, accurate, noninvasive way to assess your liver health. When it comes to your liver health, your doctors want to provide the best possible care. About the size of a football, the liver is one of the largest organs in the human body and responsible for performing many functions that are critical to your health.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is asymptomatic, and patients are often unaware that they have the disease. If left untreated NAFLD can, over time, lead to a more serious stage of the disease.
“This quick and painless scan will only take a few minutes. Upon completing your physician will be able to immediately interpret your results and determine next best steps including referrals to specialty care, sophisticated testing, or clinical trials”, said Dr. Gunn