Controlling your weight, exercising and following a healthy diet are important to improving your liver health. Limiting alcohol and refraining from smoking and overmedicating are important as well.
If you think you may be risk for a fatty liver, ask your primary care doctor to order liver function tests. These blood tests, often called a liver panel, will typically check for abnormal levels of alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), albumin and bilirubin. Abnormal results in any of those tests should lead to additional testing or counseling.
Primary care physicians can also order a blood test called a FibroSure. This is a biomarker test that uses the results of six blood serum tests which, along with the patient’s age and gender, are used to generate a score that is predictive of liver disease.
This is an area of much interest for those involved with non-alcoholic liver health. The same blood tests used in the diagnosis of NAFLD are also used for NASH. Historically, the liver biopsy has been proclaimed as the “Gold Standard” of NASH diagnosis. There a number of disadvantages to a biopsy including cost, risk of infection and potential errors as the liver sample may not be representative of the entire liver (e.g., disease may not be present in the entire organ). Despite these disadvantages, a liver biopsy is required in clinical trials for the development as NASH drugs per the dictates of the FDA.
There are many developments in the area of non-invasive tests. Among the tests currently used are MRIs and similar tests and the FibroScan (used to measure liver stiffness).The fibroscan is becoming increasingly popular with hepatologists.
Often, doctors will use “all of the above” to make their diagnosis.
Monitor your situation through regular bloodwork. The liver is a forgiving organ; it is the only organ that can regenerate itself. Fatty liver disease can be reversed through lifestyle changes. Without action, though, it can lead to serious liver disease such as cirrhosis and as the scarring gets worse a transplant may be needed. Lifestyle changes are critical. Visit our Nutrition page for more information on how to improve your diet.
A small amount of fat in your liver is normal. However, when more than 5% to 10% of the liver is infiltrated by fat, fatty liver disease occurs. This is typically referred to as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease to distinguish it from fatty liver caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
NAFLD is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that is not caused by alcohol, with little to no inflammation. Nearly 100 million Americans have NAFLD. Of those, up to 25 million have NASH. NASH stands for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and occurs when the liver swells and there is damage to liver cells. As the disease progresses and scar tissue impairs the liver’s ability to function cirrhosis can occure.
It is critically important to have a healthy liver. Your liver is the hardest working organ in your body, performing over 500 functions. Important functions include processing food and drinks into nutrients and eliminating toxins from the body. If your liver fails you will die.
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“I WAS TOLD I NEEDED TO LOSE WEIGHT JUST LIKE EVERY DOCTOR VISIT I EVER HAD.”TONY VILLIOTTI NASH PATIENT