Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, is a common, often “silent” liver disease that closely resembles liver disease in an alcoholic patient, but occurs in people who drink rarely, if ever. It is characterized by the presence of fat in the liver, accompanied by damage and inflammation to the organ. Many times a patient with NASH feels fine, and has no idea that there might be a problem, hence the “silent” description. That doesn’t mean that this diagnosis cannot be serious, however, because it can still lead to Cirrhosis, where the healthy tissue of the liver is permanently replaced with damaged scar tissue.
It is estimated that two to five percent of Americans are affected by NASH, and an additional ten to twenty percent of Americans are affected by “fatty liver”, where the subject has fat in their liver without inflammation or tissue damage. While this is not a normal condition, fatty liver alone is not known to cause harm or permanent damage. When blood test results or liver scans reveal suspected fat within the liver, the condition is known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD. When performing further testing through a liver biopsy, it can be revealed that the patient has either NASH, or simply a fatty liver.
Both of these conditions are increasing in our population, and this is suspected to be linked to the increasing levels of obesity observed across the nation. In the past ten years, the rate of obesity in the U.S. has doubled in adults and tripled in children. Obesity is also often linked to diabetes and high blood cholesterol, and these comorbidities can increase the risk of health problems for someone with NASH, both of which are also increasing in prevalence throughout the nation.
For further information about this condition, read the entirety of this article from the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases by clicking the following link: