Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)
LIVER HEALTH CONNECTION FACT SHEET UPDATED 070116
What is fatty liver/NASH?
Fatty liver disease is the build up of extra fat in liver cells. Fatty liver tends to develop in people who are overweight or obese, have diabetes, and/or high cholesterol or high triglycerides. Fatty liver may cause the liver to swell, which may cause scarring (cirrhosis) over time and may even lead to liver cancer or liver failure. The more severe form of fatty liver disease is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH also causes the liver to swell and become damaged.
What are the risk factors for developing fatty liver/NASH?
Patients at risk of developing fatty liver and/or NASH include those who are obese (have a Body Mass Index of 30.0 or higher), have type 2 diabetes, have high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, have had Gastric bypass surgery, are dealing with a metabolic syndrome (risk factor that also increase chance of heart diseases), and/or consuming high amounts of fats and sugars.
Data is very limited as to why an individual either does or doesn’t get NASH, as symptoms are unlikely to be visible until the disease has progressed to a more advanced stage. Research suggests there will be an increase in individuals who are obese.
What are the symptoms of fatty liver/NASH?
Typically, there are no symptoms shown, however some may experience jaundice (yellowing of the skin, eyes, and/or fingernails), fatigue, abdominal pain, and/or nausea.
What are the treatment options for fatty liver/NASH?
Losing weight through a healthy diet and effective exercise is the primary way to combat fatty liver. Additionally, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and reducing stress can reduce liver damage. Pharmaceutical treatments are being developed as well.
What are the statistics?
It’s estimated that fatty liver affects at least 25% percent of Americans. 12% of adults, and 2.6% of children in the U.S. are diagnosed with NASH.
How is fatty liver/NASH prevented?
Exercising and maintaining a healthy weight through diet is the best way to decrease your chances of developing fatty liver and NASH.
Where can I get tested for fatty liver/NASH?
If you suspect you might be at risk for fatty liver, consult with your primary care physician about running a liver enzyme test, a liver ultrasound, and/or a liver biopsy.
Where can I get more information?
Liver Health Connection provides information, support, and resources for patients with fatty liver/NASH. Call 1-800-522-4373 or visit www.liverhealthconnection.org.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases