NASH (Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis) occurs when an abnormal amount of fat builds up in the liver. It is the most severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NASH is linked to the triple epidemic of obesity, pre-diabetes, and diabetes. However, its symptoms are often non-specific to NASH, making it difficult to detect in the years the disease progresses. If you’re at risk, you can break the silence of liver disease.
Progressive and Life-Threatening
The liver is a storage area for fat, so every liver has a certain amount. Various factors can cause more fat to accumulate in the liver than what the body’s burning. Excess fat levels trigger the body’s immune response that somethings wrong. Inflammation occurs in the liver as a part of the usual healing process. Collagen is also sent to the liver, which binds and strengthens healthy tissues. Unless the fat levels are reduced, chronic inflammation continues.
- Sudden weight loss
- General weakness
- An ache in the upper right abdomen
Eventually, liver damage and scarring occur as the continuous collagen response begins to replace the liver’s healthy tissue (fibrosis). Without action, it will become harder and harder for the liver to perform its vital functions. NASH can progress to more severe disease stages. These are advanced fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer.
Heavily Influenced by Lifestyle
NASH is heavily influenced by lifestyle choices that lead to fat accumulating in the liver. These include excessive calorie intake and lack of activity. Some medical conditions also increase your risk:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Insulin resistance
- High blood lipid levels
Most people are between the ages of 40-50 years old when they develop NASH. Alternatively, some people will develop it and not have any of the common risk factors.
A Lifestyle Disease Requires Lifestyle Changes
If you know the risks, you can make lifestyle changes that may prevent NASH. Even with moderate scarring over the liver, treatment and a healthier lifestyle can slow or stop progression altogether. You can also work with your doctor for a proactive plan for monitoring your liver’s health annually.
Recommended Lifestyle Changes:
- Reduce your total cholesterol level.
- Weight loss
- Control diabetes and other chronic conditions
- Stop or reduce alcohol consumption
- Exercise regularly at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week
Currently, there are no FDA-approved therapies specific to treating NASH. Although, there are medications that may help control or reverse liver damage. These have the approval to treat other conditions but also work well with liver disease. Potential new options for NASH are currently under evaluation in clinical research studies.
Endeavor Clinical Trials is looking for individuals with NASH to join upcoming research studies. To learn more, call (210) 949-0807, or visit our website.