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NASH Studies Unit -NAFLD & NASH Info

  • Question:Why worry? What problems are caused by NAFLD?
  • Answer:

    Liver swelling from excess fat accumulation can cause achy pain in the abdomen and this can be severe in some people.

    The biggest concern is the development of cirrhosis. This probably occurs in about 10% of people with NASH and can lead to liver failure, death or the need for liver transplantation. Once cirrhosis has developed, complications include internal bleeding (variceal hemorrhage), accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites), and progressively worsening confusion caused by toxins that are not cleared by the liver. There is also a small chance of developing liver cancer once cirrhosis has developed.

    Liver transplantation is an option once problems from cirrhosis develop, but obesity and the complications of diabetes may preclude consideration for liver transplantation.

    Besides these liver complications of NAFLD, the underlying insulin resistance that caused the NAFLD is also associated with high blood pressure, elevated blood triglycerides (fat), atherosclerosis, heart disease, diabetes, gout, and polycystic ovary syndrome. NAFLD can be the first sign that these other diseases could develop later unless insulin resistance is treated.

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