SHOULD WE WORRY ABOUT FATTY LIVER ?

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Liver is the largest factory in human beings wherein many things can go wrong causing the most common human suffering. Liver disease has evolved over the decades due to lifestyle changes. World Liver Day was first celebrated in 2010 by the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), since then April, 19th has been celebrated as World Liver Day every year. This year World Liver Day theme Is on Fatty Liver.

When you think of the liver alcohol comes to mind, alcohol continues to be one of the most common causes of liver disease followed by a viral infection such as hepatitis B and C but in the last couple of decades, fatty liver has become the most common cause of liver dysfunction in the world secondary to change in lifestyle.

Excessive Fat accumulation in the liver was initially thought to be benign but now we have realized that this fat accumulation alters the liver function over time. Gradually as the duration and amount of fat increases in the liver, this fatty liver goes on to progressive liver disease from steatosis to hepatitis to cirrhosis finally leading to hepatic failure and liver cancer.

Why is fatty liver disease increasing in the population? Increase in prevalence of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Unhealthy eating practice, excessive junk food intake, a sedentary lifestyle,  work from home, all leads to the deposition of fat in the body and liver causing fatty liver.

This fatty liver disease was assumed to be more prevalent in the urban population, but now studies have shown that it is increasing in the rural population as well. World prevalence of fatty liver disease is about 10-30%.

We in the department of gastroenterology in KLE Hospital, headed by Dr.SantoshHajare have been conducting screening liver camps to diagnose and stage patients with fatty liver disease. So, far data over the last 5 years wherein more than 6000 patients have been screened showed a prevalence of fatty liver around 34% out of which more than 20% have progressed to liver dysfunction.

The Fibroscan machine has been a game changer in the diagnosis and staging of fatty liver disease. Fibroscan is a non-invasive and painless method by which liver fat and fibrosis can be accurately assessed within a matter of minutes. The Fibroscan machine has been functioning for about 5 years and was helpful in analyzing the above data.

The KLE hospital has also been doing free Fibroscan for poor patients on the 3rd Saturday of every month. More than 2500 scans have been done free of cost for deserving patients so far.
The problem with fatty liver is that initially most of the patients are asymptomatic and when diagnosed they already have advanced liver dysfunction. It is a challenge for medical practioner to pick up these subjects early and this is where the role of these screening camps with advanced gadgets like  Fibroscan are helpful .Our camps have helped us to pick asymptomatic patients with fatty liver and help them prevent the progression of the disease. It is of utter importance that high-risk populations like obese patients, diabetes, and family history of liver disease need to be screened for early diagnosis and timely intervention.

Once a patient reaches advanced liver disease it becomes irreversible damage and the patient lands up in liver failure requiring life-long treatment or a liver transplant.

How to prevent fatty liver?

One of the effective ways to prevent and reverse fatty liver disease is adopting a healthy lifestyle. This includes avoiding alcohol, foods that are high in fat, sugar and salts. Instead focus on incorporating whole grains, fruits and vegetable along with regular simple exercise like walking 150 minutes per week.If our population adapts these simple measures it go  a long way in preventing fatty liver in the community .

 

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