Gastrointestinal

What is Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)?

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Health Nucleus clients enroll presumed to be healthy, but some are found through our integrated assessments to have asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic health concerns, which now detected, can be treated through standard medical care. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is one example.

What is it?

  1. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease in the Western nations.
  2. NAFLD is the presence of increased accumulation of fat in the liver. NAFLD is a term that covers a range of liver conditions that happens in people who only drink small amounts of alcohol or not at all.
  3. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is a serious form of the disease that causes liver inflammation that could lead to scarring.

How does it happen?

  1. There are many conditions that are linked to elevated liver fat including insulin resistance, obesity, type II diabetes, high triglycerides, rapid weight loss and sleep apnea.
  2. There is a strong correlation between NAFLD and insulin resistance (poor blood sugar control) due to increased breakdown of fats (lipolysis), triglyceride synthesis, increased liver uptake of free fatty acids and build-up of liver triglycerides.

What are possible symptoms?

  1. Elevated liver fat usually doesn’t cause any symptoms.
  2. Pain in the liver located in the upper right abdomen
  3. In advanced stage (cirrhosis), abdominal swelling, yellowing (jaundice) of the eyes and skin

Patients with the following conditions are at higher risk.

  1. Obesity
  2. Elevated cholesterol
  3. High blood pressure
  4. Insulin resistance or diabetes
  5. Metabolic Syndrome
  6. Diet high in excess calories
  7. Rapid weight loss

Potential complications?

  1. Liver cirrhosis occurs in response to liver injury as the liver tries to stop inflammation, this causes areas of scarring called fibrosis
  2. Liver failure
  3. There are associations with liver cancer

What are possible treatments?

  1. Treatment is geared toward lowering risk factors such as losing weight, controlling diabetes and blood sugar, along with cholesterol control.
  2. Exercise
  3. Healthy Diet
  4. Reducing alcohol intake

Where can I get more information?

For additional information, please seek further guidance from your primary care provider or gastroenterologist.

Mayo Clinic (2018). Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20354567

Tendler, D.A. (2018) Pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. In K.D. Lindor & K.M. Robson (Eds.) UptoDate Available from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/pathogenesis-of-nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease?source=see_link#H13

Wedro. B. (2018). Fatty Liver. In B. Anand (Eds.), https://www.emedicinehealth.com/fatty_liver_disease/article_em.htm#fatty_liver_disease_facts