Is NASH the Next Epidemic?

Stages of liver damage. Healthy, fatty, liver fibrosis, and cirrhosis.

Experts are predicting an epidemic of NASH: non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. In other words, fat build-up in the liver with associated inflammation and scarring (fibrosis). Which is related to it’s precursor, NAFLD: non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. These are significant issues particularly for folks with type 2 diabetes. From Diabetes Care:

“The clinical burden of both NAFLD overall and NASH specifically has increased steadily since the 1980s. NAFLD currently affects 25% of the global population and >60% of patients with T2D. Studies evaluating the prevalence of NASH suggest that it may involve an estimated 1.5%–6.5% of the general population and as many as 37% of people with T2D. Prevalence of NASH is expected to increase by 63% between 2015 and 2030. Although these numbers seem substantially lower than those for NAFLD overall, they still translate to 4.9 million to 21 million Americans and more than 100 million individuals worldwide. Modeling data estimate that the number of patients with NASH-related advanced fibrosis will likely double by 2030, resulting in 800,000 liver-related deaths.

NASH is already the number 1 indication for liver transplantation in women, patients older than 54 years, and Medicare recipients. Beyond the significant impairment of quality of life experienced by individuals with NASH and advanced fibrosis, Younossi et al. estimated in 2017 that the overall lifetime direct costs of NASH in the United States would be $222.6 billion, and approximately $95.4 billion over the next 2 decades, suggesting a substantial economic burden.”

Loss of excess weight is one way to combat or avoid non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Let me help.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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