Who Is At Risk For Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease & Is There A Blood Test For It?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) represents a range of liver conditions that leads to the accumulation of excess fat in the liver. It is common in people who are obese ad overweight. It affects the people who take little or no alcohol. It is a common disease in western countries. Some patients with NAFLD have a tendency to develop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) that results in inflammation of the liver progressing to cirrhosis and eventually liver failure. It renders damage to the liver similar to alcohol abuse.

Who Is At Risk For Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a group of conditions characterized by buildup of excess fat. It leads to the inflammation of the liver. (1) It is not caused by alcohol. It is the most common liver disease in western countries. (2) It is usually present with other liver diseases. It is less common than fatty liver disease. In early stages, it is less harmful but it has the potential to render serious damage to the liver causing cirrhosis. This will worsen the condition of the patient. (1)

The people who are at risk of developing the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are-

Obesity– those people who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. However, there are no scientific studies available that can prove any relation between obesity or NAFLD. It is observed that a mildly obese person also develops this disease while a heavyweight person does not. (2)

Age- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease commonly affects old people who are above 50 years. men are more affected than women. (2)

Diabetes– diabetes is one of the risk factors for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. However, only people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop NAFLD. They have more risk for this disease. However, type 1 diabetic people have no risk of acquiring this disease. (2)

Hypertension– people who have hypertension are more prone to develop Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (2)

Hyperlipidemia- hyperlipidemia is represented by high levels of fats in the blood that include cholesterol and triglycerides. If any person has high levels of these fats in the blood, then, he is at greater risk to develop NAFLD. (2)

Sudden Weight Loss– some people lose their weight very rapidly either by dieting or surgery to manage obesity. These people are at greater risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This happens because rapid weight loss causes rapid changes in the levels of fats and fatty acids in the blood leading to this disease. (2)

Medicines- Certain medicines such as methotrexate, tamoxifen have rare side effects on the liver that may induce NAFLD. (2)

Is There A Blood Test For Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease cannot be diagnosed by any simple test. The liver function test is the blood test that can be used to measure the levels of certain enzymes secreted by the liver. When this test shows abnormal patterns, then there is a possibility that you have Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. After abnormal Liver function test reports, your doctor may order you some other blood test that would help to rule out other possible causes of your liver ailments. For instance, a complete blood test may detect the presence of infections by microbes and other abnormal chemicals that may indicate liver ailments. (2)

After getting an abnormal liver function test, an ultrasound, CT scan, MRI scan or liver biopsy may be done to confirm the inflammation or enlargement of the liver caused by this disease. (2)

Conclusion

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a group of the condition represented by the accumulation of excess of fat cells in the liver cells. Obese persons, diabetics, hypertensive, old people, and others discussed above are more at risk to develop this disease. The liver function test is the blood test that can detect this disease.

References

  1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/non-alcoholic-fatty-liver-disease/
  2. https://patient.info/healthy-living/alcohol-and-liver-disease/non-alcoholic-fatty-liver-disease

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