Fatty liver disease sets in without apparent symptoms

Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine, Social Health Community Comments Off

In the absence of precautions, the condition can progress rapidly and cause complete scarring of the liver

New Delhi, 21 April 2019: There has been a rise in the cases of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) this year as compared to 2018. While there are no definite statistics available yet, doctors indicate that they have been observing at least 10 to 12 new cases every month, with patients across age groups. Fatty liver disease is a disorder that occurs due to excessive build-up of fat, which leads to scarring of the liver.

Not all types of NAFLD are lethal, but they’re not benign either. Once detected, the patient must undergo further tests to know if the liver is scarred or inflamed. About 20% of liver inflammation cases have a chance of developing cirrhosis. It is known as a silent killer due to an apparent lack of symptoms till the condition progresses.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “NAFLD is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol. As the name implies, the main characteristic of this condition is too much fat stored in liver cells. A healthy liver should contain little or no fat at all. The main complication of NAFLD is cirrhosis, which is late-stage scarring (fibrosis) in the liver. Cirrhosis occurs in response to liver injury, such as the inflammation in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.  As the liver tries to halt inflammation, it produces areas of scarring (fibrosis). With continued inflammation, fibrosis spreads to take up more and more liver tissue.”

Some signs and symptoms of this condition include enlarged liver, fatigue, pain in the upper right abdomen. When it progresses to cirrhosis, it can cause ascites, enlarged blood vessels and spleen, red palms, and jaundice.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Those with NAFLD have a greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease and it is one of the most common causes of death in them. About 10% weight loss can improve fatty liver and inflammation.”

There are reports to indicate that cinnamon (dalchini) can help improve lipid profiles and NAFLD due to its antioxidant and insulin-sensitizer properties.

Some tips from HCFI to reduce the risk of NAFLD

  • Eat a healthy plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.
  • If you are overweight or obese, reduce the number of calories you eat each day and get more exercise. If you have a healthy weight, work to maintain it by choosing a healthy diet and exercising.
  • Exercise most days of the week. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.