Every third individual suffers fatty liver
Every third individual suffers fatty liver. The new silent killer- fatty liver- is affecting a third of our population, said Dr Naveen Polavarapu, consultant medical gastroenterologist and transplant hepatologist at Apollo Hospitals at a seminar in Public Gardens on Sunday.
The new silent killer- fatty liver- is affecting a third of our population, said Dr Naveen Polavarapu, consultant medical gastroenterologist and transplant hepatologist at Apollo Hospitals at a seminar in Public Gardens on Sunday. Non- alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), also commonly known as fatty liver is caused due to excess fat deposition in the liver cells.
“As in the case of alcohol consumption causing damage to liver leading to a condition called cirrhosis, excess fat deposition can lead to similar permanent serious damage,” the doctor explained. “Fatty liver is now recognised as a major public health burden especially with growing obesity, more so with childhood obesity. Estimates suggest that around 30 per cent of general population suffer with fatty liver. By 2020 it is expected that fatty liver related cirrhosis is the most common cause for liver transplantation,” Dr Naveen opined.
Explaining the cause of fatty liver in detail, the doctor said that normal content of liver fat is five per cent of the total body weight but if it exceeds more than 10 per cent, it leads to fatty liver. “As the fat content in the liver increases, it leads to inflammation or swelling and then scarring and finally permanent irreversible damage called cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is estimated that about 2 in 100 people with fatty liver will progress to cirrhosis over 15-20 years and about 12 in 100 people with NASH progress to cirrhosis in eight years’ time.” Naveen stated that high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity can be the major causes for fatty liver.
Speaking about symptoms and necessary tests for fatty liver, Dr Naveen said, “Most people with fatty liver have no symptoms and often gets diagnosed on routine abdomen scan (ultrasound) or blood test. Diseases that affect the liver are silent killers, often until nearly 80 per cent of the liver is damaged there are no symptoms and by then it is too late. People with fatty liver occasionally have some nagging pain in the right part of the tummy. Some people may feel generally tired too.” “There is no simple test that can confirm fatty liver. Blood test for liver function test, scans like ultrasound, CT scan, MRI or even liver biopsy (tissue sample) may also be needed based on the severity of the disease,” he added.
“There are no magic treatments or pills to treat fatty liver. Eating healthily, gradual weight loss and regular exercise are the treatments which have shown greater impact on reducing the risks of fatty liver. Key to the treatment is strictly controlling the risk factors like diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. More than the liver damage these patients are at greater risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks, strokes and kidney injury,” the doctor concluded.