June 12, 2019, marks the second annual International NASH Day. First held in 2018 by the Global Liver Institute, International NASH Day advocates for raising liver health awareness and promoting early intervention for fatty liver disease and NASH, its more advanced form. With our NASH Day Event, Arizona Liver Health is proud to join the fight against NASH and raising awareness for this important issue.
NASH, or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, is a more severe and progressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A buildup of excess fat in the liver because of diabetes, genetics, obesity, or medication can eventually lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, or a liver transplant. If you haven’t heard of the disease, you’re not alone. Despite affecting 12% of adults in the United States, only 6% of at-risk Americans have heard of NASH. It affects more than 115 million people worldwide (with 30 million Americans among them), and that number is estimated to climb to 357 million by 2030.
Despite those numbers, this threat to liver health doesn’t receive much attention. Most liver health patients don’t show symptoms, which means that the disease is underdiagnosed and underreported. With 40% of patients progressing to cirrhosis, liver failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer), the need for patients, doctors, public health officials, the media, and the general public to be more aware of the disease is crucial.
Most NASH patients are between ages 40 and 60, although younger patients with other risk factors are also at risk. It’s also more common in women than men. Concurrent medical conditions include obesity (70% of patients), type 2 diabetes (up to 75% of patients), and hyperlipidemia (anywhere from 20% to 80% of patients. For the one out of five liver health patients who have NAFLD, it’s important to know whether they have NASH. FibroScan is a simple, noninvasive, ultrasound-like test that measures liver fibrosis (scarring) and fat content in a few minutes. Sometimes a biopsy is needed to determine if NAFLD has progressed to NASH. Patients can protect their liver health with their healthcare team’s guidance through diet and exercise, and clinical trials of treatments might be an option for some patients.
For more information about International NASH Day and to learn more about news, events, and opportunities to get involved in promoting and protecting liver health, visit the Global Liver Institute information page. If you’re a referring physician or a liver disease patient in Arizona seeking compassionate and innovative care, Arizona Liver Health can help. To refer a patient or schedule an appointment, use this online contact form or call 480-470-4000.
Stay tuned for AZ Liver Health’s own NASH Day event in August!